Mike Palmer Spring Lectures, Tuesday 19th March & Wednesday 20th March 2019
- Tuesday 19th March, Mid Ulster BKA, Clogher Valley BKA, Tullylagan Country House Hotel, 40B Tullylagan Rd, Cookstown BT80 8UP.
- Wednesday 20th March, Roe Valley BKA, Venue t.b.c.
As a child, Michael spent most of his spare time outdoors, fascinated by the plants and insects and animals living in his suburban New York City environment. He escaped the city by going off to the University of Vermont, where he fell in love with the countryside, his future wife, and eventually the little bugs that we all hold so dear.
The first colonies of honeybees arrived in 1974 as packaged bees, and over the following twenty odd years, he built French Hill Apiaries into a farm of nearly a thousand colonies. About 1990, Acarine mites and then Varroa mites arrived in his bees. The result was not pretty. Beekeeping became way more difficult, and way more expensive. With ever increasing losses, the wisdom of buying in replacement bees came into question. Splitting strong colonies reduced the honey crop and pollinating the local apple orchards caused the whole operation fall apart with failing colonies, broken equipment, and one thoroughly exhausted and one frustrated beekeeper.
In 1998, Mike tried raising a few queens, wintering them in nucleus colonies. The results changed his beekeeping forever. Not only did the bees winter more successfully and store larger surplus honey crops, the fun level rose to new heights, far above the clouds.
Believing that quality should always trump quantity, a decision was made to cut back on the total number of production colonies in the apiary, and focus on raising the best queens possible. With a thousand nucleus colonies of various configurations to help support the seven hundred honey producing colonies, French Hill Apiaries produces, on average, some twelve hundred queens and thirty to forty tons of honey annually.
Michael lives in St. Albans, Vermont with his wife Lesley, and Wilson, their Maremma Sheepdog. When not helping his crew manage the honey production colonies, or spending countless hours in the queen rearing apiaries, Mike travels the world teaching sustainable beekeeping to anyone who will listen.