Log in

Michigan Beekeepers Association

Log in

2024 MBA Spring Conference

 Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Beekeepers Association will co-host free, pre-conference webinars.

Friday, March 1, 2024 and Saturday March 2, 2024

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

MSU Kellogg Center, East Lansing, MI

* * * * *

Registration February 16, 2024  - March 2, 2024

$85 Members / $120 Non-Members

2 people with family membership: $150

* * * * * * *

Online Registration is Open.


Speaker Presentations

MBA Spring Conference Registration

Vendor Table Registration

Bee Clubs and Organizations Table Registration

The Michigan Beekeepers Association’s spring conference will be returning as a TWO-DAY event! Researchers and professional beekeepers will share their expertise in 5 separate tracks including: Beginning Beekeeping, Queens/Drones, Hive Products, Beekeeping as a Business, and Pollinator Gardens. The conference features a large vendor area to meet all your beekeeping needs and serves as a great place to talk with fellow beekeepers.

We will be having a silent auction that runs Friday through Saturday.

Friday evening entertainment includes Bee-ingo with Charlotte Hubbard, a live auction, and a cash bar. Please join us at 7:00 pm in the Lincoln Room for what is sure to be a fun night!

*Donations for both the silent and live auctions are greatly appreciated! If you have something to donate, please contact Keith Lazar at

For those with a competitive spirit, we encourage you to enter the honey show.

Honey Show Rules

Dining is available at Brody Hall across the street from the Kellogg Center.

Dining at Brody Hall

Come learn with us on March 1st and 2nd, 2024, at the Kellogg Center on Michigan State University’s campus in East Lansing!

Speakers Bios

Rich Wieske, MBA President

Title: Opening Welcome and Updates on the MBA

Rich was a lifelong camera operator and media production company owner. He considered himself a quiet introvert who hated meetings. That all changed when he discovered mead and apis mellifera. Now Rich declares “the bees made me do it!” A self-proclaimed “tree hugger", he enjoys hunting for mushrooms and has even traveled around the world on a ship. In his spare time, Rich enjoys making candles and chocolate truffles. Rich serves as the current president of the Michigan Beekeepers Association (MBA) , the Educational Director of the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association (SEMBA), and the Vice President of the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS). He loves going to conferences and talking with beekeepers: "some of the greatest people in the world!” And yes, Rich has visited all 36 bee clubs in the state of Michigan!

Dr. David Tarpy

Keynote Speaker 

Bio: Dr. David Tarpy is a Professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and Director of the NC State Apiculture Program, having received a BS from Hobart College, an MS from Bucknell University, a Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis, and a USDA postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University. He is broadly interested in the biology and behavior of honey bees, with projects investigating their mating system and genetic diversity, molecular and pollination ecology, oxidative stress and social immunity, disease ecology, and reproductive plasticity. His work connects the basic biology of honey bees with the pragmatic application to improving colony health and management. A particular focus of his lab group has been on the reproductive plasticity of queens in an effort to improve queen quality and colony productivity. He has co-authored over 150 peer-review papers and has served on the boards of the Bee Informed Partnership, the Eastern Apicultural Society, and numerous national working groups. He is an editor for the Journal of Economic Entomology and Apidologie, and has received numerous awards including being named a University Faculty Scholar at NC State in 2015.


Quality of Commercial Queens

Our interest in multiple mating by queens asks the logical question about how good commercial queens are. Diminished queen quality and reduced longevity is a major problem experienced by beekeepers, and so this presentation explores the good news and the bad news when it comes to buying queens in the apiculture industry.

Diagnosing Queen Problems: is it the Queen, the Colony, Both, or Neither?

Practical advice-based on empirical research-looking at different symptoms and attributing whether or not the problem is the queen’s fault. A lesson in showing how we blame the queen way more often than it’s actually her fault.

Honey Bee Genetics and Bee Breeding

This is a fairly technical lecture on how beekeepers can harness the power of genetics for breeding better traits in their bees. Essential for anyone interested in taking their queen rearing to the next level.

Coming Out of Winter

Early spring is not only the most tenuous time for colonies and beekeepers, it is a very busy time for the bees. Understanding the biology of the bees during this time helps beekeepers minimize winter losses, maximize honey production, and succeed in the following year.

Karee Beck

Bio:  Karee is an award winning candle maker. The past several years she has sold candles and other beeswax value added products throughout Michigan at farmers markets and festivals. She proudly uses only 100% pure beeswax in all her candles.

Presentation: Beeswax Candle Making

Karee will discuss wax preparation and talk about the process for making candles with silicone molds. She will have equipment on hand to demonstrate her technique.

Mike Connor

Bio: Mike Connor is a Certified Arborist, Nursery Grower, and an experienced Beekeeper. He grew up on an orchard and Christmas tree farm in Southwest Michigan and purchased his first hive of bees when he was 12 years old. He is in a unique position to understand the relationships between plants, trees, and bees.

A graduate of Cornerstone University, with post-graduate studies at MSU, Mike became a Branch Manager of a national Bee Supply manufacturer, Dadant and Sons, in 1977. At Dadants he received a practical education in beekeeping from some of the best beekeepers in the world. He left Dadants in 1985 to start his own tree Nursery and operate 200 hives of his own.

Including a 7-year commitment as a Municipal Arborist and Park Superintendent, Mike has spent his entire career growing and caring for plants, trees, and bees. He is a co-founder of the Grand Rapids Area Bee Club.

Presentation:  Tree and Shrubs as Resources for Honeybees

Trees are the largest source of pollen and nectar for pollinators throughout the Great Lakes region. While pollinator gardens and flower plantings are important to our Native bees, our domesticated honey bees require much more. Honeybees need the massive resources provided by trees for spring build-up, for population growth, and for a honey crop. This talk will cover the major tree and shrub species that are vital to our bees, as well as a brief Primer on how to properly select, plant and care for those trees.

Amy Fester

Bio:  Is an active member of the Grand Rapids Area Beekeepers Club and is looking forward to her 11th year in beekeeping. A friend introduced her to the hobby of DYI projects with beeswax and now She’s hooked! Loves learning how to use beeswax in skincare projects.

Presentation:  Superb Skin Care Begins With Beeswax

Do you know about your skin care's ingredients? Are you applying natural, safe, and beneficial creams on your body? Even many upscale health and beauty businesses boast about including products of the hive in their skincare. Come learn how to create your own "nutrition for the skin", utilizing beeswax.

Peggy Garnes

Bio:  Peggy Garnes is the past president of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association. Peggy started keeping honey bees over 20 years ago and now manages well over 100 hives. In recent years, her focus has been on selectively breeding and producing Ohio queen stock.


Backyard Queen Rearing

It’s time to raise your own queens for free: local survivor stock at your fingertips.

How to Make Money With Honey

Let's look at more honey uses to cash in with at home stands, Farmer’s Market, and County Fair.

Dr. Zachary Huang

Bio:  Dr. Zachary Huang is an associate professor in entomology at Michigan State University. Zachary grew up in a small village in Hunan, China and went to college to study agriculture in the first batch of students following the cultural revolution. During the early 1980s, he received a scholarship to study honey bees in Canada, and in 1998, he came to MSU. Zach’s research includes stresses on honey bee behavior, physiology and colony performance, Nosema apis, Nosema ceranae, Varroa destructor, extreme temperatures, transportation, pollination and pesticides. He blogs regularly about honey bee flowers at

Presentation:  Bee Behavior

Dr. Zachary Huang will show videos of various honey bee behaviors, which includes common ones such as waggle dance and vibration dance, but also other behaviors that are rarely seen, such as stop signal and tremble dance. He will also interpret a duet of honey bee queens singing to each other. He will also show videos of honey bees swimming.

Charlotte Hubbard

 Bio:  Charlotte, a beekeeper since 2008, now manages about a dozen colonies. She and her late husband Marshall routinely ran 30 – 50 colonies, with excellent overwintering survival. Michigan’s 2018 Beekeeper of the Year, Charlotte is the lead instructor for KVCC’s beekeeping program, a board member for the Kalamazoo Bee Club, and author of numerous articles and books on beekeeping, including a chapter in Honey Bee Medicine, a veterinary textbook. All profits from her writing and charity go to feeding the homeless in SW Michigan. Learn more at

Presentation:  Way Forward

A review of best practices and common pitfalls to help prepare you for successful early-stage beekeeping.

Cecilia Infante

Bio:  Cecilia teaches beekeeping and runs three apiaries with her husband, a retired combat veteran (OIF/OEF). They founded Bee Warriors- an organization that promotes the therapeutic power of beekeeping for individuals with PTSD, as well as the nutritional role of bee products in human and animal health. She earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Michigan, and currently blends her love of words and bees as MBA Historian, SEMBA Bee School teacher, and EMU writing instructor.

Presentation:  Frontiers in Apitherapy: The history, science, and therapeutic promise of psilocybin-infused Blue Honey

Honey and psilocybe (magic mushrooms) have been used for their healing properties for thousands of years. But only recently, in 2018-2019, did a national movement begin to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms and research their potential to treat substance-use disorders, depression and anxiety, PTSD, and cancer-related existential distress. Simultaneously, the medicinal properties of honey, particularly against Covid 19, accelerated research into this functional food’s healing benefits. This presentation will explore the history, science, and therapeutic promise of psilocybin-infused honey, known as Blue Honey. I will also review the processes of making this product at home.

Dr. Adam Ingrao

Bio:  Dr. Adam Ingrao is the Co-Founder and National Director for the Heroes to Hives program, leads the beekeeping education program at Bay Mills Community College, is an instructor for the Great Plains Master Beekeeping course, and serves as an Outreach Specialist at Michigan Food and Farming Systems. Dr. Ingrao also co-owns and operates Bee Wise Farms LLC, the largest producer of local nucs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Presentation: Producing Quality Nucs for Profit on a Small Scale

Nuc production is an important part of developing a sustainable local bee supply that does not rely on the importation of bees to replace annual losses. In this session, we will discuss the ins and outs of nuc production for beekeepers under 100 colonies. There will be a special focus on development, management, costs, quality control, time commitment, profit margins, and customer expectations.

Nick Kaminski

Bio:  Nick Kaminski is a first-generation beekeeper, and the owner/operator of Hickory Tree Farm Apiaries in Kent City MI. Nick has been keeping bees for 10 years and as a Marine corps Veteran has been a participant of and now instructs for Heroes to Hives. As the operator and beekeeper for HTFA Nick manages 100 migratory colonies Between Georgia and Michigan as well as producing queen bees and nucleus colonies for sale.


From Hobby to Commercial: Lessons Learned

A collection of lessons over a 10-year period on a journey to become a commercial beekeeper. This talk is an in-depth look at the hidden cost of expansion and the challenges of running a commercial apiary.

Beekeeping in the Black: Revenue Streams of the Hive

Beekeeping can be an expensive hobby, ever wonder how your hives can make money for you? This talk explores revenue streams from the hobbyist to commercial beekeeper.

Don Lam

Bio:  Don and his wife Jean Lam have been keeping bees for nearly 25 years. They provide pollination services and produce honey, and frequently host field trips to their apiaries. Don teaches local and state beekeeping classes and gives presentations to community groups.

Don is an officer of the Holland Area Beekeepers’ Association and serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Beekeepers’ Association.

Presentation:  Diseases and Pests

An overview of the diseases and pests a beekeeper may encounter and how to manage them.

Jan Lawson

 Bio:  I started beekeeping in the late 1960s when I was 14 years old. I really didn’t know what I was doing, so I learned by trial and error, which was much easier back then. There were very few bee clubs and I didn’t have a mentor,so when I got myself into serious trouble Roger Hoopingarner was just a phone call away. He was always patient and rescued me many times. These days I’m searching for the magic number of bee hives. That number where beekeeping is fun, especially on those hot summer days. I can occasionally be found at the Dadants Bee Store where I “work” part time. If I’m not there, I’m in the garden or in the bee yard.

Presentation:  The First Two Months

An overview on preparing for bees arrival, installation, and key initial activities and checks for about the first two months of beekeeping.

Janet Macunovich

Bio:  Janet Macunovich is an author, educator and 40-year designer of simple, enduring and creative garden plans. She's reached thousands of gardeners both amateur and professional through books, articles, conferences, radio- and internet forums and her free website, Now retired from tending client gardens, Macunovich is devoted to education - her own as well as others'. She says, "I'll never stop learning. If what I say helps you it's because I am your fellow student."


Design and Care for Pollinator Gardens

 Smart and ecologically aware gardeners know to treasure the insects that pollinate flowers. Here's how to design and maintain a landscape to attract and protect these vital players.

Bio-Logical Gardening: Beauty without pesticides

Interested in greener and pollinator-friendly ways to control insects, disease and other pests in a garden? Join us to learn about non-chemical approaches in agriculture and horticulture and how to adapt these tactics to specific problems in your garden.

 Megan Mahoney

 Bio:  Megan Mahoney has been fascinated by honey bees ever since being introduced to them in Dr. Marla Spivak’s lab in 2003. Her enthusiasm for bees, beekeepers, and bee breeding has grown over time, and inspired her to build up a repertoire of beekeeping experiences and skills across the US. She has invested more than a decade of work inside the commercial bee industry, with past experience working for queen producers in Northern California, leading a tech team for the Bee Informed Partnership in Texas, and working as a technician for the varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) breeding program on Hawaii, Big Island. In 2019, she and her partner (Ross Klett), founded “MAHONEY BEES & QUEENS,” a company specializing in instrumental insemination, breeder queens, and cell production. They currently manage a migratory Carniolan- based breeding population in addition to helping maintain about 2,000 colonies. They travel (with the bees) between South East Texas and Central North Dakota.

Dr. Meghan Milbrath

Bio:  Dr. Meghan Milbrath is an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at MSU, where she studies honey bee diseases, focusing on transmission risk and treatment. Dr. Milbrath is also a beekeeper - she began working bees over 25 years ago as a hobby, and since 2011, has run The Sand Hill Apiary, a small livestock and queen rearing operation in Munith, Michigan. She studied biology at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and received degrees in public health from Tulane University and the University of Michigan, where she focused on environmental health sciences and disease transmission risk. Meghan worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University, studying nosema disease and in the honey bee lab at Swedish Agricultural University.


Rules and Regulations in Michigan Beekeeping

Does Michigan require inspections? What is needed for a honey house license? Do you need a honey house license? Is honey a cottage food? Can I use the term raw on my label? How about organic? Who is covered under right to farm? In this talk we will answer these questions and more, and will go over what is required and what is recommended in Michigan Beekeeping.

Queen Rearing

Clarence Rudat

 Bio:  Clarence Rudat is a Product Innovation Counselor at the Michigan State University Product Center. Rudat plays a pivotal role in supporting food manufacturers and entrepreneurs in Michigan. His responsibilities include assisting clients in scaling up products, particularly focusing on value-added processing. One of Rudat's key responsibilities at the Product Center is managing the Food, Agriculture, Research, and Manufacturing (FARM) accelerator in Muskegon. This facility serves as a licensed, shared-use food space, offering flexible manufacturing options to facilitate the commercialization of food products like honey and wax products. Additionally, Rudat contributes to the USDA Value-Added Producer grant application program in Michigan and is a hobby beekeeper.

Presentation:  Marketing Value-Added Products from the Hive: A Winning Business Plan

You have heard about all the wonderful products that can come from the hive! We will talk about the next steps to commercializing your value-added products including developing a viable business plan that includes goals, objectives, market strategies, budgeting and obtaining funding.

Jason Towers

 Bio:  Jason Towers is a 8th year beekeeper, President of the Fremont Area Beekeepers and graduate of the MSU Hero’s to Hives program.

Presentation:  Bee Biology

Understanding basic bee biology is key to success. Jason will review lifecycle, roles, castes and other concepts, explaining why these are critical to keeping bees successfully.

Jenna Walters

Bio:  Jenna Walters is a PhD candidate at Michigan State University in the Department of Entomology working with Dr. Rufus Isaacs to assess the effects of extreme heat events on blueberry pollination. Her interdisciplinary work seeks to understand the consequences of extreme heat on bees, flowering plants, and their interactions.

Presentation:  The Consequences of Extreme Heat Stress on Blueberries and Bees

Extreme heat events pose a major threat to plant-pollinator interactions, but the full effects are not well understood. To better understand the effect of heat stress on bees, we conducted a no-choice field cage study with Osmia lignaria females who were provided blooming blueberry, phacelia, and clover plants that had been recently exposed to either extreme heat (37.5°C for 4 h) or normal temperatures (25°C for 4 h). Females that were provided only heat exposed plants produced significantly fewer offspring than females provided non-stressed plants. Of the offspring produced in cages with heat-stressed plants, larval survival was significantly lower compared to those that visited flowers of plants exposed to normal temperatures. Results from this research highlight how extreme heat can influence both sides of plant-pollinator interactions, with compounding influence on pollination.

Dr. Gordon Wardell

Presentation:  A forty year perspective of apiculture starting at Michigan State, carrying across Asia and the Pacific and what years of honey bee nutritional research taught me about bee health and colony vitality.

What started out as a hobby became a 40 year profession for Gordy Wardell. He worked for 12 years in international apicultural development then as an Extension Apiculturist at the University of Maryland. He established an R&D company where he developed the honey bee nutritional supplement, MegaBee®.

Gordy was also the Director of Pollination Operations for a California almond grower where he coordinated pollination for 40,000 acres of almond orchards.

In addition, he is a board member of Project Apis m., a science advisor to the Almond Board of California, and former lecturer at California Polytechnic University.

Preston Zale

 Bio:  Preston, has been keeping bees for nine years. As a hobbyist, he keeps 10 to 20 hives each season and likes to experiment with new tools and techniques. Preston loves to demonstrate and teach about bees and beekeeping at area schools, Oakland Township’s Cranberry Lake Park, Seven Ponds Nature Center, and at the SEMBA Beekeeping School. His underlying philosophy for new beekeepers is “Find what works for you”. Preston is president of the Seven Ponds Beekeeping Club in Dryden.

Presentation:  This Keeping of Bees

An overview of the first year of beekeeping; outlining what to expect in terms of time, cost, equipment needs and other challenges.

Copyright © 2024 Michigan Beekeepers Association
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software