89 Kim Flottum – The Venerable Tradition of Getting the Word Out About Bees (in English)

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Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture. This podcast started because I really wanted to get a sense of all the things that were going on around pollinators. There just seemed to be so much going on.

Keeping track of it was difficult. In today's episode, we explored this tradition of trying to gather all the information out there about pollinators with Kim Flottom, who is the editor of Bee Culture Magazine. As our beekeeper listeners no doubt know, Bee Culture has this tradition going back to the 19th century of being able to gather all the things that are going on and put them on the pages so somebody can pick up a magazine on a monthly basis and figure out what's going on. In this episode, we're going to explore that history, but we're also going to talk about the future and steps that Bee Culture has been taking through podcasts like ours. They've got a great podcast that we're going to plug in this episode, but also through webinars and other things to be able to reach out to a new generation who are hungry for information about pollinators. Hope you enjoy the episode. I am in St. Louis where I've cornered Kim Flottom. Welcome to Pollination, Kim.

Speaker 2: Well, thanks. It's nice to be in here. I'm also in St. Louis and have been here a few times before, but I've got to tell you the weather is very unfriendly here this weekend.

Speaker 1: It's a little bit cold, I have to say. But we were both at the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association educational session, which was really marvelous.

Speaker 2: They did a good job. I'm impressed with the organization and the level of services they provide, and they take good care of speakers, I have to admit. That's important.

Speaker 1: I feel well taken care of. You were there at the very first event. There was an opening event. You talked about some of the what you see in the future for beekeeping. One thing that really struck me, I didn't know this, is that a bee culture has a podcast. I just want to first of all, for listeners who don't know what bee culture is, just lay out where bee culture came from.

Speaker 2: All right. Interestingly, 150 years ago this year, AI Root in Medina, Ohio, who was then a jeweler working in the city, was standing on the second floor of his factory. He was with an employee and they were looking out over the street and a swarm flew by. AI Root looked at that swarm and he turned to his employee and said, I've always been interested in bees.

I'll give you a dollar if you can catch that swarm. Firmly believing that that was totally impossible. Not knowing the employee was a beekeeper. The employee grabbed a wooden box he had there retrieved a swarm brought it back to AI and said, here's your bees, where's my dollar? AI paid him his dollar.

Now what do I do? And the employee, being a beekeeper, gave him some instructions and AI took the box to the third floor of his factory, which was being unused at the time. And he says, well, I'll give them plenty of light and plenty of air and I'll sit them right in front of this window. And he left them there that day. And of course, the sun came in the window and the sun beat on the box with the bees and within a day they were gone.

They left. This was not a good place to be, but it piqued his interest. As anyone who's ever been bitten by the beekeeping bug, he was bitten. So that was 150 years ago. From that grew a beekeeping business. And he started manufacturing beekeeping supplies there.

And what he did very soon after that swarm is not have any access to good beekeeping information. He went up to Cleveland, which is about 40 miles away. At the time it took a day to get there and there was a bookstore in Cleveland that he wanted to visit.

So he got up there and he went to the bookstore and there were three books on beekeeping available. One was by a guy named Minor, who was still a boxhive person. And the other one was by Langstraw. And he looked at the Minor book and he looked at the Langstraw book. The Langstraw book had not many, but more pictures than the Minor book. So he bought the Langstraw book and history changed.

Speaker 1: So many of our listeners do not know Reverend Langstraw. So just give us a little like. Why was this coincidence so important?

Speaker 2: In the 1850s, Langstraw put together the final pieces of the puzzle of the movable frame hive. And he figured out how to make it so that a beekeeper could open a hive, remove a frame without having to destroy the comb or kill the bees, examine the comb, or harvest the honey, or change brood frames or whatever, and then put it back without damage. And what that did essentially was make commercial beekeeping possible. It would enable beekeepers to switch frames and to make large colonies box upon box upon box.

It made commercial beekeeping a viable enterprise. And an AI looked at this book and he looked at the other one and he decided this was a good choice. So because it took a day to get home, he had to stay in a hotel that night in Cleveland. He went to the hotel and he pretty much read the whole book that night. He didn't sleep.

He was bitten again. So he went home and began looking at beekeeping from the perspective of the movable frame hive. And very quickly, because he had a manufacturing facility, he began building beekeeping equipment first for himself, then for his friends, and then for sale. Very quickly, he discovered one of the many beekeeping journals that existed at the time called The American Bee Journal, which was published out of Pennsylvania, I believe at the time.

And he got to know the editor and he started writing to the editor. And what he did was he didn't brag about his successes. He told you about his failures.

Oh, wow. And what he did and what happened because of it. And because he never considered it successful, he always considered himself the novice. And that's what he called. That's how he signed his letters, the novice.

That's great. So this went on for a short period of time and the manufacturing in his facility grew. And it got to the point where he was sending out what he called them, he called them flyers. And essentially a catalog. He started selling to the public.

And the joy of his timing was, I mean, the right place, right time. It was right after the Civil War. So the post office was beginning to pick up again. And education schools were beginning to pick up again.

So you could mail anything almost anywhere and almost everybody could read. At the same time, they built two railroads in Medina, east-west, and north-south. And he was looking for a place to expand his manufacturing facility. And there was a place right next to where those two railroads crossed, right next to it. So he could make a load of something in his factory and wheel it out the door and put it on a train. That easy. So right place.

Speaker 1: It sounds like an inordinately lucky person.

Speaker 2: Right place, right time, but smart enough to take advantage of it. Yeah, of course. Yeah, yeah. Yep. So his business grew and grew and the flyers that he sent out encouraged people to ask him questions. And so they would write him letters. And of course, we didn't have email then. It was if you were going to answer a letter, you did it by hand. Well, very shortly he grew weary of answering all of these letters.

And he said I have to fix this. I have to mass-produce answers somehow. I'll print my magazine.

And he started a magazine and he looked at the process and what it contained and what he wanted to do with it. And if you're familiar with the term gleaning, you know, it's people going through an agricultural field and harvesting what was missed. Not the detritus, not the garbage, but the...

Speaker 1: Pulling out the gems. Yes, exactly. The material that was left. So he said, what I have in my magazine is gleaning in bee culture. And that was the title of the magazine. And it was the title of the magazine until 1990 when we dropped the word gleaning. But a little bit more on that was even that magazine, which started as a monthly and quickly became a bi-weekly because when he started it, there was no electricity. So to run his press, he needed a windmill.

Really? So when the wind blew, he could print his magazine. And when the wind really blew, the pages kind of came out crooked because they were going through the press so fast.

Oh my goodness. Eventually, he got electricity and he was able to coordinate his press a little bit better. At the same time he did that, he put electricity in his factory and ran electricity all the way up to the square, which is probably about eight blocks from his church.

And because a very religious man, very beholden to Sunday school and all of that. So even his magazine wasn't answering questions fast enough. He says I have to get even better at this. So he decided to take as many questions as he could find the answers and compile them in a book.

Speaker 2: And he said, how can I make this easy to use? So rather than make it in chapters, he made it encyclopedic and alphabetized the answers. So if you wanted to know about the abdomens of B's, you could go to A.

And if you wanted to know about some kind of honey, you could go to the appropriate letter in the book and find the answers that way. He made it easy for people to use. And that became his ABC and XYZ of B culture, and we are as of today working on the 42nd edition of that book.

Speaker 1: It's amazing. You can go through anything you want to know, just find it in the alphabet. And there it is. It's a great definition or description of exactly what you need to know.

Speaker 2: He did it. The first ones did a very good job, but we've tried to continue that. Of course, it becomes more complex every year. And then you begin to look, okay, do I want a book that weighs 34 pounds sitting on my lap or am I going to do this in three editions?

And actually, we're kind of wrestling with that at the moment. How much information can we pack into this? Or do we make it two volumes? And then did we do an electronic copy?

And so we're wrestling with some of that right now, but we are working on the 42nd edition. But that's kind of the story of how AI got started with gleaning and B culture.

Speaker 1: Well, it strikes me that this post-Civil War era where you couldn't get the information out fast enough parallels in some cases the present, where we have a whole lot of new beekeepers who are coming out and you just can't get information out to them fast enough.

So tell us a little bit about how you sort of thought about this problem and how you're going to get all these new beekeepers and answer their millions of questions.

Speaker 2: Well, there are two things going on relative to information sources. And we have gone from pencil-writing answers to letters to the electronic age. And the electronic age has opened the door to anybody and everybody who wants to talk about anything. And you can find YouTube videos and you can find web pages and you can find podcasts on almost any subject. And what we looked at, we've looked at several things over the last couple, three years, it's taken a while to kind of form this in our heads. One of the things that we wanted to do is provide good information to reach out to people who aren't electronic, I say devotees are electronic addicted.

Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's a better way to put it.

Speaker 2: The people who still want paper in their hands. We wanted to provide them with a source of information that was aimed just hardcore directly at them. So we've done two things. We started a magazine called Beekeeping Your First Three Years.

And what we found are a lot of surveys and found that's the critical period in a beekeeper's life. They'll get a package or a nuke, they may join a club, or they may not. And too often that package will die the first year and they go, well, okay, I'm new and I expect packages are expensive. So they buy another couple of packages and they do it again and the process repeats itself. And then somebody at home begins to look at the budget and say, you know, I thought we were going to make money on this.

You told me when we... Exactly right. So that's usually the demise, the end of the beekeeping career and the equipment goes out in the garage and it sits there forever or maybe they sell it to a friend. What we wanted to do was break that cycle. We wanted to give... We wanted to put information in the hands of people so that they would succeed in their first year and their second year and by the third year they would be growing.

And we've done that two ways. We went and found authors who specialize in basic fundamental beekeeping information, how-to information and that's what we're at here. We don't have a lot of theory. We don't have a lot of hardcore science. This is basic, which end of a hive tool do you use? How do you light a smoke or kind of information?

And then we went and because we've been publishing a magazine for 130 some years, we went and gleaned, if you will, the best articles from our past that we could find.

Speaker 1: Great because you must have every kind of basic problem. It's not as though a lot of these problems are not new ones. They've been thought about by people in the past and have been really well, how I'm going to communicate this to somebody who's starting has been thought out.

Speaker 2: From the south, the Midwest, the west, the east coast, Canada. So yes, we gather together and continue to gather this information to pass on. I mean, it still works. It worked then, it'll work now. At the same time, we have a stable of writers for our magazine Bee Culture that we also are able to tap into. And we've pressed them to produce something fundamental and actually, many of them kind of enjoy it because it's just basic beekeeping.

Most of the time, I have to impress you. Now I just have to inform you and it's easy and it's fun. So putting those two sources together, we've managed to produce a journal that's been it's available on Newsstands. A lot of Newsstands in Canada and a lot of Newsstands in the U.S. and by subscription, it's a quarterly, however. The good thing on that is on Newsstands because it's been there a long time. It doesn't disappear every month and gets replaced. It's there a long time and we make the information in each quarterly issue span those three months. You pick it up.

Speaker 1: Oh, that's good.

Speaker 2: Well, what it does and I wrestled with this for quite a while, but if I pick one up every month, suddenly I've lost what I'd, where did that last month go?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. With a quarterly, I've got it and it takes me from January to March. And it takes me, it walks me through January to March and it walks me through January to March whether I'm in Wisconsin or Texas or California or Saskatchewan.

Speaker 1: Oh, that is fantastic.

Speaker 2: So that's been fairly well received. We're quite pleased with how that's doing. It gives people who want paper in their hand paper, as opposed to watching something on their cell phone or sitting at home at night, looking at some YouTube video. Not that all of those are bad.

And if I'm going to recommend electronic information, my stock answer is to take it from a university or a government agency. After that, become skeptical. He says, and then I'll tell you what we're doing. Because there is still interest in electronics out there, we need to be a part of the electronic media. We need to be part of social media.

There is a value to that and there is a need for that. So Jim Tu and I, Jim, who writes for us in the magazine, has written for us longer than I've been there. And it basically has an academic background and I put our heads together and said, what can we do to provide something that's sort of a bridge between these two, between the real world and between academia and that source of knowledge? So we put together and working with the people who help us put our magazine out, we put together a webinar series and we call it the Kim and Jim Show. And we've had the title works, stick in people's minds.

So that's a third of the battle is to get people to remember your name. And so what we do is we go and we'll talk to a scientist who's done some unique research and they've got a PowerPoint and they'll put it together. They'll deliver the PowerPoint.

It's live. So we've got that going and we try to do it whatever day we're going to do it. We're going to do it from noon to one Eastern Standard Time. So it's fairly predictable and it's lunchtime for a lot of people. Far more than half of our listeners are east of the Mississippi River.

Fantastic. So we try to catch people at noon. And the reason for that is far more beekeepers in the U.S. are east of the Mississippi River.

It is. Most of the bees are west of the Mississippi, but most of the beekeepers are. So we try to make it predictable and we'll find a scientist or we'll find a beekeeper or we'll find somebody that's doing something current and what we consider to be important and we'll put them on for an hour. So what are your roles? Basically what we'll do is we'll come if we were going to come and talk to you about your role in Oregon. We would say we want to see your PowerPoint on the pollinator gardens that I just saw here today at this meeting. And what we would do is we would talk a little bit about you, about your program. You would tell us a little about your program and then we would just say well show us what I saw in the St. Louis meeting and your PowerPoint would start. We might, we would listen to it, but like everybody in every audience you've ever been to, in the middle of it, I got a question. I want to raise my hand, but I can't because it's impolite and it would distract me. Well, this is my show when I can.

Speaker 1: Well, that's also really good because I do think after the break we'll talk about podcasts, but I do think there's a kind of way in which a good communicator can sort of punctuate things that somebody's saying. It's like you just said that's astounding or something. You can really help a learner kind of work through complicated material in that way.

Speaker 2: That's the value of doing it live, A. And so we've got that interaction, that immediate interaction. But it also kind of breaks things up and it makes it informal, it's friendly, it's easy, it's fun.

And I haven't done one yet that wasn't a lot of fun. So the Kim and Jim show works on that level. We have over the two years we've been doing it, we've advanced the technology now where we can take a cell phone with a hotspot and put it. Kathy does this with us, she's our camera person. And she'll put a cell phone in her back pocket with a hotspot. And if we can get a cell phone signal wherever we go with her iPad, we can go outside. So this summer we're going to be doing a lot of stuff in the middle of a beehive.

That's great. She'll be filming it. Jim and I will each have mics and we'll be talking and looking and getting stung and all of these good things. And it's live.

Speaker 1: I can imagine the two of you are pretty hilarious together too. We have a lot of fun together.

Speaker 2: We've known each other for 30 years and we've had a lot of fun together. So the next level of technology is we will have someone else out in that field with a cell phone who's getting text messages, and questions live from the audience. So we do something, somebody will text me right now and they'll say, what the hell did you do that?

Speaker 1: Oh, that's fantastic. No, that would be so great. And then being able to sort of like walk through the high with two real experienced beekeepers would be really great.

Speaker 2: Or we found this and we've never seen it before and I'm showing it to you. Maybe you can tell us what it is.

Speaker 1: Oh, that's great. Let's take a quick break. I want to come back and I want to, now that we've sort of set the stage, I want to talk about this great podcast that you guys have at BeCulture. I was really excited to hear that BeCulture has a podcast because for 150 years, no, when the BeCulture gleaning started.

Speaker 2: About 138 years ago.

Speaker 1: 138 years ago, AI really was, oh, even before because he was pending his letters to American Bee Journal. Even before that, yep. He was really concerned. The tradition of the company was about trying to make something that's very complicated, beekeeping accessible to people. Tell me why you decided to try and tackle this problem through a podcast.

Speaker 2: The podcast evolved suddenly. And it came about, the Kim and Jim show was kind of going along nicely. It's not entirely predictable. It's not every Thursday or once a month on the third Thursday of the month.

But it's somewhat predictable. But about eight months ago, a friend of mine, used to live in Medina with us. And he was part of our Bee Club in Medina.

Then he moved to Colorado and eventually to Olympia, Washington. Really? He's an IT guy. He's a tech guy.

Well, that's where they all go. He's also a music guy. So he knows how to record and edit music. So he was at home visiting, and he came back to Medina. last summer I ran into him in town and we just kind of reminisced for a while and not, and he wrote to us after he moved. When he moved to Colorado he was writing for us and he did some work in Mexico and he did some work in Oregon or Washington after he moved out there.

But then life fills up the void and marriage and house and job and everything and we kind of lost touch. And then when I ran into him we caught up real quick and he said, you know I've been thinking you need to do a podcast and I know how to do it. Well when somebody throws something like that in your lap and you don't have to do anything, I said okay let's take a look at it and he set it up. He has all of the technology, he has all of the editing skills, he has all of the web page skills. He does all of the hard work. So he acts as a co-host and he came up with a web page and the web page is called www.bekeepingtodaypodcast .com. It's a mile and a half long.

Speaker 1: We will post it in the show notes or rewind and just write it down on a piece of paper.

Speaker 2: So he got it started and his value is, of course, he knows enough about beekeeping to be a good you know knowledgeable co-host and he knows all of these other skills.

My value is all of the people that I know. So if something is trending at the moment I can usually in the industry usually call up, call them up and say I'd like to do a podcast with you. You can do it at 9 o'clock tomorrow night because it's pre-recorded in your pajamas at home in the living room.

Speaker 1: I can just see that email.

Speaker 2: That's attractive because most of the people that I deal with are running full speed all day long and to be able to do this at a later time or an easier time is attractive to them. So we've been able to really...

Speaker 1: Well I know one you just recently did was with Reed Johnson. He just released this paper and I noticed it was all over social media and you had him and this really fascinating interview with him about his work in California. The next day. That was great.

Speaker 2: The ability to do that was A. I know Reed really well. So when I called him up and B. Reed was going yeah we need to tell a lot of people about this because it's all in bloom right now. So that worked really well but the two of them working together got Reed on. The one we did just before that with Tom Sealy. Tom Sealy has a new book coming out and he just had a book coming out on B. He calls it B. Hunting. I've always called it B. Lining. Have you ever B. Lined? No.

Speaker 1: Oh. We have an episode with Lynn Royce where she tried doing it and she recounts it. You know Lynn.

Speaker 2: Boy there is a name from the past. Hi Lynn. I've known Lynn for years but I haven't talked to her in a lot of years. Hi Lynn. Good to hear from you again.

Speaker 1: So yeah B. Lining. I've never done it. So tell us about the episode.

Speaker 2: Well Tom just came out with a new book called The Life of Wild Bees and I wanted to talk to him about that because his publisher gave me the opportunity to review it. And he also came out with a B. Lining book I'm going to say less than a year ago but about a year ago or so and I got to do that one also. And Tom and I have a history that goes back about 30 years from when he was at Yale right out of Cornell. So we've known each other for a long time. So we got Tom on the line and I got to talk to him about his brand new book and his brand new book is it's sort of like when you start beekeeping you learn all of the all of the Langstraw movable frame gizmo tool things that you can do to manage and to manipulate and to do things to bees to make them do what you want to do. And I've seen enough people go through this curve where that's a curve.

It starts that way and it kind of peaks at the point where I'm either going to go commercial or I'm going to continue doing this or I want to go back to more natural. And this is what Tom did and his book is The Life of Wild Bees this is how bees live in cavities and trees with the propolis envelope and the swarming every year and requeening and all of the how bees live.

Speaker 1: I talked to Tom about this because he has an out-of-print book. Remember Honey the Ecology. So he kind of like started on this route and it's nice to see him come full circle but also from this perspective you know he's writing for different audiences than he was writing for originally.

Speaker 2: What you're going to see in this book is all of the books that he's done in a plaster kind of compressed into a chapter and he's just sort of summarizing his career.

He's kind of come back to Darwinian beekeeping as he calls it. He started simply and all of his life he studied how you know how you study cavity size choice. I mean he did that on the main island and how do you study the distance swarms go and how do you well he's got all of those things incorporated into his book and he's brought it all together and the life of the wild bees.

Speaker 1: There's one thing I always like about Tom's books is that they do have a kind of continuity. You know it's not complicated it's like I had this question and it's like I'm going to envelop it in you know multiple chapters. And so the synthesis of the synthesis will be really cool.

Speaker 2: It was and he's very articulate. It's fun to talk to him just because he knows what he's doing so well.

Speaker 1: So I can also imagine part of the appeal of the show is not only you know people but you've been sort of around the bee world for a long time and you kind of have a sense of a story like being able to interview somebody about something you probably know how to draw that out.

Speaker 2: Okay. You do. Anyway, I was a question but it's actually a statement. It's sort of like it's sort of there's two things going on here. It's when somebody wants to write an article and I can see that they have a story to tell I can encourage that and I can ask a couple of questions you need to look more at this and less at that and maybe include some of this and only because I know

Speaker 2: a lot about what our readers are looking for in an article. And it's kind of the same thing. And if there's anybody out there that's looking to write an article for Bee Culture magazine we're always interested and I'll give you two rules. One is when you ask how long it should be my answer is it needs to be every word you need but not one more.

So tell me the story don't waste any space or time. So if you're looking to write for us that's kind of my golden rule. It doesn't get more complicated than that but when I'm talking to somebody like here today and answering these kinds of questions or I'm talking to somebody and asking questions, I'm always doing it from the perspective of my reader because we survey people so much that I really have a good feel for what they want to know so I try not to get in the way.

Speaker 1: I suppose that's in the tradition of the legacy of A.I. Root is really trying to think about what was his pen name again. The novice comes from the perspective of the novice and it's like being able to really relate to people who are encountering these ideas for the first time.

Speaker 2: And later in life he got away from not beekeeping but he got away from the day-to-day in his factory. He kept tabs on the books really well. I mean he knew how well his business was doing. His children took over the business and they did it quite well.

What he got involved in more heavily later in life was peripheral aspects of his life. One of them of course was bicycles. He had the first bicycle in Medina. And if there's no other bicycle in town how do you learn to ride?

There's nobody to teach you. So he figured out how to ride his bicycle and in so doing he got in touch with the Wright brothers because they were bicycle mechanics done in Cincinnati in the southern part of Ohio. And he started a relationship with them because of the bicycle. Well, it turns out they're also making airplanes and trying to learn to fly and he became really interested in that part of it. So his interest wandered and I'm going to go back to the Wright brothers in a second but his interest wandered but it always came back to how can this value the people in my life and where is God in this decision?

Religion again was always still important. His correspondence with the Wright brothers wandered from bicycles eventually to airplanes and if you know the history of the Wright brothers when they were in North Carolina their first flight was up and down straight ahead. And in their correspondence, they say okay we think we've got this figured out we're going to bring our plane up to Cincinnati this summer and we're going to try to do a flight that's a little bit different come down and watch. So he took his car down his electric car down to Cincinnati from Medina which back then was probably a four-day trip and what they did was they took off and they went up and they turned around and they came back and landed where they took off from and that was the first real flight of an airplane. He saw this he witnessed this he was the only witness. Really? He wrote it all down he took and so at the time was doing a lot of writing for Scientific American magazine.

Speaker 1: He was? And he was a farmer he was a grower he had chickens he had his fingers in a lot of places and of course his bees in his business. But he wrote the story for the Scientific American and they just said no way

Speaker 2: this didn't happen and even if it did who cares? And they wouldn't publish his article and he tried and he tried and he said okay I'm going to publish it in my beekeeping magazine so he published the first flight of the Wright Brothers in Cleaning's and Bee Culture magazine. In 1905 the January and February issues of 1905, Cleaning's and Bee Culture the first recorded flight of the Wright Brothers.

Speaker 1: That is amazing I love that story. Well, I am hoping that in one of the future podcasts you have like that you know there's going to be a space explorer. The first warp drive. Wait a minute I have a story.

Speaker 2: If you're interested up in Cleveland there we have a NASA operation and in that NASA operation they do what's called microgravity research. When you drop something it essentially has no weight until it lands and then it has a lot of weight. But between the time that you step off the roof and the time you hit the sidewalk below you are weightless. Well, NASA has or at least had some time ago a hole in the ground that was a quarter mile deep and they had this platform that was probably the size of four king-size beds that they could put research on. They could perform experiments while that platform was dropping down that quarter mile so you could try something and see what it did in microgravity or essentially no gravity.

And it took it so long to drop a quarter mile that the shaft that they had is slanted to accommodate the turn of the earth during the time that it takes to drop. So they were doing some things with liquids that were sticky. They were trying to figure out some way to do something with liquids that were sticky and one of the people that worked on microgravity at the time was a beekeeper. And he said oh by the way I have some sticky stuff at home. So he brought in a bottle of his honey and they took it up on some rocket and did the sticky stuff but first, they dropped it down that hole. So his honey got to go a quarter mile deep and then it got to go into space and I don't know what the experiment was but we have a beekeeper in space.

Speaker 1: Fantastic. I'm glad Ohio Honey was the one that's the red. Let's take another break. I've got questions I asked all my guests. I'm curious, deadly curious what your answer is going to be.

And we're back. Okay. So we asked all our guests if they've got a book to recommend and I imagine you have maybe a hundred. I don't recommend it. But what would you recommend to our listeners? Something in your large amount of knowledge of bee books but it's on the top of the list.

Speaker 2: I think we may have covered that already. I think anything that Tom Sealy's ever written is worth the time. I really do. There's a lot of good books and my focus is on books on beekeeping and bee biology. I've read a lot of other books but in the genre, I know this really good one about backyard beekeeping but that comes in second.

Speaker 1: So you've written yourself. You've got a great book on backyard beekeeping and actually, in Oregon, a lot of our beekeepers read it because we deal with residential beekeeping. So tell us a little bit about your book.

Speaker 2: Well the Backyard Beekeeper is in its fourth edition and the first one came out about 10 years ago and it was pretty fundamental. And the publisher I was working with at the time just absolutely felt that it needed recipes with honey. And I don't mind. I like cooking and I like cooking with honey but in my opinion, this was a stretch.

But they insisted and they said well if you want to publish your book you know. So we put recipes with bees and we put how to make candles. Both are good pieces of information but in a beekeeper's book, I had to push to get that. So the first two editions we did that and then I finally talked them out of it. Now the whole book is basic beekeeping and we stretched into long into top bar hives and wary hives and a lot on urban beekeeping because in those 10 years, both of those things have kind of come into play a lot stronger than they were initially.

The last edition, well you were at the meeting this morning. We talked about the 10 rules of modern beekeeping and in the book, it's 25 rules of modern beekeeping. I made them a lot more bullet points but it's basic animal husbandry. You could almost, not quite, but almost replace chicken or dog or cow with bee and these modern rules of animal husbandry and it would work. So it's just fundamental because a lot of people who grew up in an urban environment don't have a lot of experience with basic biology.

Speaker 1: No, or just like keeping care for an animal. That's not something that is out there these days.

Speaker 2: That's not something they grew up with.

Speaker 1: Yeah, for sure. And that's why I included it. It has turned out to be a popular section in the book because a lot of people just don't have a feel for it. Okay, so the next question I have, I ask all my guests, is if they've got a tool, a go-to tool, a tool that they really find indispensable for the kind of work they do.

Speaker 2: I'm going to put that in plural tools. In my office, my office is triangle shaped and I sit at my face triangle shaped and one side is window and that's where I face the window. The two sides behind me are probably one of the greatest collections of beekeeping books in the world. And when I want an answer, I can go to any beekeeping expert in the last 150 years and pick it off the shelf and look it up. So it's tools, but it's the collected knowledge and the collected wisdom of the beekeeping industry for the last 150 years.

Speaker 1: For the last 30 minutes, Dr. Steve Pranell from the Beaver Lodge Research Farm has been sitting across from us. And the one thing I have a similar experience in Beaver Lodge, Steve put all the American bee journals, the bee cultures. We had a little weird Canadian Bee magazine for a while. They're all up there.

And I remember going up and just hunting through what people have written in the 30s, especially when we were working on American Foul Brute at the time and there was just so much really great work that was there. That was nice to have it available. And it's not the same as having the internet there.

Speaker 2: No, it's not. The internet's instant and the internet's often wrong. The value of the books is, to me, the value of the books is that I can pull down a do-little book and I can pull down a root book and I can pull down a date amp book and look up the same subject. You can see that three people at the same time in history thought about the same subject. And if they pretty much agree, then I'm pretty confident that this is a way to approach this issue. Often, the world has changed way more than they would have ever expected it to. And their answer, correct then, is going to be wrong now. But if I can look at three books, and three experts, and have them agree on something at about the same time, I'm confident that I'm going in the right direction.

Speaker 1: That's a great rule of thumb. The last question I have is, the way we ask this question, do you have a favorite pollinator? And for people who are steeped in honey bees, oftentimes honey bees are their favorite pollinator. But maybe there's a specific bee colony that you've encountered that sticks in your memory. A bee colony? Yeah. Or yeah. Oh.

Speaker 2: I, okay, I have a favorite pollinator. I'm going to veer off the beaten path here and I got a thing from monarch butterflies. Oh, fantastic. I've over the years learned about their migration and talked to people who know about them, how many generations it takes to get south and north, and how to provide food for them now when all of the milkweeds that used to be in corn aren't in corn anymore. And I have a soft part in my heart for monarch butterflies. I think I love honey bees. Honeybees have put food on my table for 40 years. There's no doubt that that's an important part of my life. But there's a beauty and there's a poetic, there's a poetic something about a monarch butterfly that honey bees don't share.

Speaker 1: Well, and you, I remember you were telling me that you have pollinator gardens, so you must have had the joy of finding some eggs under a milkweed leaf thing.

Speaker 2: We have it work. We have, I got about three or four acres behind my office that have been nothing but mowed for 50 years. And about seven or eight years ago, I said, you know, that's a waste of space. And one of the people who advertised in our magazine is a pollinator garden mix. And I said, if you give me enough seed, I'll put in a plot and we'll show your garden. And then the master gardeners in Medina County said, well, what about, and I, so now we've got a master gardener list and it's a, and I'm going to stumble on the word here. It's a garden that they put all through Ohio starting in the very south and going to the very north and they put the same plants in there.

What's the word I'm looking for? I don't know. And they record when they bloom. So, that's it. Thank you. And so the phenology, the phenology garden, we've got the master gardener phenology. And then we've got the pollinator protector monarch wings across Ohio garden. And then we've got two of their other seed gardens looking at different, there's a legume mix and there is a wildflower mix that we've got. And then there are three mixes from Project Apes M that they've got. They've got a mustard mix and they've got a clover mix and they got a clover mustard mix.

And then one of the pollinator stewardship people convinced the Ohio Department of Transportation to start putting a seed mix on roadsides to provide food for pollinators and reduce mowing. And we've got one of those gardens in there. And this year we're putting in, I think, three more. We've got two more seed mixes. And we're going to start looking at it real hard because this is a hot subject. And I think a lot of people are coming up with pollinator mixes.

And we're going to start doing some field tries. Are they what they say they are? And are they as good as they say they are?

So I want to be able to compare them in my environment, in my little plot in Northeast Ohio. At least I'll have some idea of what people are doing. So I see a lot of monarchs every summer.

Speaker 1: Well, it's fantastic. And unfortunately, where I am in Oregon and on the other side of Oregon, we have that West migration pattern, not so many where I am. So I'm glad that you're doing this. And I'm really glad.

We've had other honeybee people who sort of don't say honeybees are their species, which is great. But thanks so much for taking the time with us. I guess it's time for dinner.

Speaker 2: OK, that's good. Thank you.

Speaker 1: Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollinationpodcast.oregonstate.edu We'd also love to hear from you and there are several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or topic, or ask a question that could be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at [email protected] Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU Pollinator Health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

This week we talk with Kim Flottum. Kim has not only thought long and hard about communicating with people of bees, as editor of Bee Culture and BEEKeeping magazines, but he has a tremendous sense of the history of this endeavor, being situated in the historic A. I. Root Company in Medina, OH. Kim is also invested in the future of teaching people about bees with initiatives such as the KIM&JIM Show webinars with Jim Tew and Beekeeping Today podcasts with Jeff Ott.

Learn how Kim Flottum is taking beekeeping education into the future, and how he is following in legendary beekeeping educator Amos Root’s footsteps.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“We have gone from pencil-writing answers to letters, to the electronic age, and it has opened the door to anybody and everybody who wants to talk about anything.” – Kim Flottum

Show Notes:

  • What Bee Culture is and where it came from
  • How a novice bee enthusiast eventually authored an encyclopedia of bee and bee-related information
  • How Kim and A. I. Root Company are getting information to budding keepers in the digital age
  • What “The KIM&JIM Show” is and what it provides beekeepers around the world
  • How Kim sees his educational resources expanding to become more interactive
  • Why Kim carried the educational spirit of A. I. Root Company on to podcasts
  • How Amos Root inadvertently came to know the Wright Brothers and where their friendship led him

“We wanted to put information into the hands of people so they would succeed their first year and their second year, and by their third year, they would be growing.” – Kim Flottum

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