Webster a keynote at farming conference

Webster a keynote at farming conference

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Kirk Webster will be a keynote speaker at the Sixth Organic Farming Conference at The Event Center in Mt. Hope Nov. 11-12.

Webster, who lives in Vermont and is the owner and operator of Champlain Valley Bees and Queens, has taken care of 300 colonies for honey production without treatments of any kind since 2001, all the while sustaining his apiary with his own bees and queens.

Treatment-free beekeeping is beekeeping without synthetic inputs like pesticides, antibiotics or even organic-approved varroa mite treatments, and Webster’s winter losses since the year 2000 have been from 10-50% — not any worse than most beekeepers that use mite treatments.

He has tried to provide an additional 400-500 treatment-free nucs of Russian honeybee heritage that have been tested by over-wintering them in Vermont, and his bees and queens are highly sought after and prized for their enhanced ability to survive both varroa and the weather extremes of the Northeast.

Although born in Baltimore, Webster has spent most of his life in New England, and his interest in beekeeping began in high school. Today, he does not have a Facebook page, isn’t on Twitter, doesn’t own a cell phone and does not even have an email address.

Despite this, he survives quite well and lives very comfortably. Webster also has written many articles and essays, many of which can be viewed on a website friends have set up for him at www.kirkwebster.com. He uses this website, with the help of friends, to share his beekeeping knowledge and experiences; explore the issues he thinks are most important “without interference, editing or censorship;” and to allow him to pull together into one place all the things he has written since 2005.

He said, “Genuine comments and inquiries by phone, snail mail or carrier pigeon are welcome.”

On Nov. 11-12, Webster will tell his story of success with honeybees in Vermont’s Champlain Valley. Besides his keynote talk, he also will be part of a beekeepers panel discussion later in the day.

Registration for this event is now open. The preregistration cost is $20 for one day or $30 per person for both days. After Oct. 23 the fee is higher. Register at www.organicfarmingconf.com, by calling 330-674-1892, or by mailing your name, check and information to OFC, P.O. Box 214, Millersburg, OH 44654. Vendor registration and sponsors are being accepted as well.