Lady Beekeeping Conference Set to Swarm Ashland: Oregon Honey Festival Gathers Bees, Honey, and Mead
The First Feminine Legacy Beekeeper Conference will be a meeting of the queen bee minds created by the Cascade Girl Organization (CGO) and the Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association (KBBA). Aside from information-sharing between fellow feminine beekeepers, these two nonprofits focus the majority of their mutual missions towards educational outreach.
“Feminine Legacy Beekeepers came about because there were a lot of women who were exchanging information, and so in 2017 it became a plan,” explains Sharon Schmidt, Psy.D., who founded CGO while studying at the Oregon State Beekeeper program.
Once stung with Beekeeper fever, Schmidt soon had to have her own hives. Today she tends to her Oregonian apiaries in Phoenix, Grizzly Peak and Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point. Schmidt chuckles, “Honey was my gateway drug to beekeeping.”
That initial high was soon tempered with her awareness of evermore pesticides not just killing the bees outright, but also creating resistance amongst the bee’s predators, much in the same way humans are developing resistance to antibiotics. The damages are dynamic, chaotic and not just deleterious to the bee colonies’ health, but apocalyptically catastrophic. As the honey bees make their return trip to the hive, they unwittingly bring back the hitch-hiking poisons and free-loading pests they picked up while out pollinating.
Beekeepers also struggle to establish what their bees are being exposed to. “We have no pesticide registry so as an individual you can pretty much spray what you want, when you want, where you want it,” says Schmidt.
Her tipping point came after witnessing a crop-duster spraying fields across the freeway during a family Thanksgiving dinner. When she decided to find out who was spraying what, she found it “to be really remarkable, that we could not find out what we had been exposed to. You can’t find them. They’re on a plane. We didn’t know who owned that piece of property,” an exasperated Schmidt says.
Not being a trained investigator, she felt helpless to take any action.
Perhaps, Schmidt wondered, if she could find like-minded humans to share with, support and protect each other as part of a greater whole, a collective if you will, then there would be strength and power in those numbers.
Enter The Feminine Legacy Beekeeper Conference, a pollinator for the people, but especially for the queens bees of the conference. With the partnership of KBBA, incredibly accomplished speakers were asked to share their mutual intelligences, experiences and passions, not just with each other but with the greater collective of attendant humanity.
Col. Pam Mindt (r.) enlisted with Cascade Girl and says, “The mission statement is simple; food on your plate! This is about providing a service to each other, our environment and investing in our own survival.” Col. Mindt knows how teamwork affects survival; she commanded battlefield troops in multiple countries, including Iraq, during her 29 years of military service under three administrations and uses those experiences to work with veterans towards achieving their beekeeping aspirations.
Throughout the conference attendees will have free access to converse with any of the Feminine Legacy Beekeepers. After all, that’s what it’s about.
Schmidt lays it out for us, “The combination of many groups doing this has resulted in a really positive shift toward people understanding that land management, land stewardship and utilization of water resources; It’s just everything for bees and it’s everything for us!”
More info at CascadeGirl.org.
The Oregon Honey and Mead Festival and the Feminine Legacy Beekeepers Conference
9 am – 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19
Ashland Center/Pioneer Hall, 59 Winburn Way, Ashland