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Pennsylvania State
Beekeepers Association

Thank you...

It has been an honor and opportunity of a lifetime to serve the PA State Beekeepers Association. Ours is one of the oldest beekeeping associations in the nation. The collaboration between PSBA, PA Dept. of Agriculture and Penn State University was established very early. This working relationship has helped to create a nationally respected organization. As I started my presidency, one of the first inquiries was from another state’s beekeeper association wanting to know how we were able to bring together the Department of Agriculture and Penn State. I couldn't answer that question. It was done well before my time. This continued collaboration is a tribute of our early leaders.

Four years ago, I recognized that this association needs to serve it’s largest demographic, the independent hobby beekeeper. Former PA Honey Queen, Rachel Bryson was working on her Master’s degree and collected very useful data in a PSBA survey. To keep this largest segment included, the association needed to communicate and address issues they value. A social media presence was created for both the PA Honey Queen and PSBA. Along with BeeHelp on the website, PSBA has reached a larger audience than ever before.

My term began while the nasty, expensive, time-consuming legal battle that occurred in Plymouth Township, Montgomery County was happening. It ended in a stalemate. I felt this should never happen again. We slowly picked away at being pro-active in the last four years.

First, we reestablished the Apiary Advisory Board. This is the face-to-face communication line with the PA Dept. of Agriculture from the Apiary Department to the Secretary of Agriculture. A sign of our positive relationship with the PA Dept. of Agriculture happened this October when the Apiary Advisory Board, which includes PSU researchers, was able to kindly gain leadership in drafting the PA Pollinator Protection Plan. Other state’s beekeepers have run into a wall or have had little voice in their state plans.

The Beekeeper Compliance Agreement was replaced with the Best Management Practices, focusing on European rather than Africanized honeybees, in 2013. The looser rules were modeled after states that had created legislation that protected beekeeping from lawsuit. Creating laws and amendments are long and uncertain. Creating a ‘voluntary’ document is faster and creates a working model immediately. I recall leaving the PDA parking lot with past president, Jim Bobb. He wanted to know how we did that in 6 months. When he worked with the Compliance Agreement, it took a year and a half. Later that year, Steve Repasky used that BMP document to help guide bee-friendly zoning in townships around the Pittsburgh area.

At a suggestion in 2014, Don Shump and I attended the PA State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) convention in Hershey. There, we presented a workshop showing how it’s possible to keep bees in urban and suburban areas without nuisance issues. PSBA has attended PSATS for 3 years. We are able to offer solutions and information directly to those in local government. We got ahead of pending problems and influence people in the position of writing local ordinances. To borrow a phrase, "if you’re not at the table, you just might be on the menu".

PSBA was struggling to establish a program for improved survivor genetics. I recognized Jeff Berta and Mark Gingrich were forging ahead on their own and asked them to chair that project. They stepped up to the challenge and have joined PSBA with HHBBC (Heartland Honey Bee Breeders Co-operative). With ongoing studies between Purdue University and Penn State, this has made some exciting genetics available to Pennsylvania. This is a long-term commitment that could someday be an important piece of the puzzle with varroa mite control.

Both EAS and ABF came to Pennsylvania during my term. We had a chance to show-off at the PA Farm Show. And it didn’t hurt that the Secretary of Agriculture was a country neighbor and friend from my county. This offered some trusted conversation and helped establish a minimum of one bee inspector for each agricultural region in the state.

I want to assure every member, PSBA is constantly working behind the scenes. Sometimes we need to stop and toot our horn. We toot cautiously because we know that each little victory will be followed with another challenge. Some of these challenges pop up quickly with little notice. We won a legal challenge in Millcreek Township, Erie County. This September, I represented the PSBA at a hearing in Kittanning. The property owner, with a single beehive, received a citation in violation of a tall grass ordinance. The “high grass” was a Master Gardener certified pollinator garden. We won. The importance of these small battles cannot be under estimated.

A year ago, I threw out the idea of recognizing communities with bee-friendly practices. Some members embraced the idea and created a completely new program for PSBA. At the annual banquet this year, we honored the borough of Bellefonte with the first Bee Friendly PA award. Very well done. We are being pro-active.

These are just a few examples of many issues that come before your president and board of directors, not to mention workings within the association. Our membership is gifted with professionals in many occupations that can benefit our voluntary association. The best asset you can offer is your help on one of the several committees.

I want to thank Yvonne for guiding me when needed and being such a gracious person to work with. I’m happy that she can step away on her terms, time, and help the transition happen smoothly. The duties of Secretary- Treasurer, Membership chair and Newsletter editor are often not recognized until there are some bumps in the road.

I want to thank my wife, Cathy. It’s important to have support and a sounding board. Being president filled more time than I ever conceived. Maybe that’s because I never wanted to let down the membership. Every correspondence should be timely and professional because it is a reflection of the organization.

There are some exciting and important opportunities and issues ahead. Stay tuned.

Thank you for the support, commitment and expertize you have offered me over the past four years. I’ll be stepping aside into committee roles.

  Charlie Vorisek
  2012-2016 President PSBA

Yvonne Crimbring Retires from PSBA

After 42 years as Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers' Association, Yvonne Crimbring has announced her retirement from the association. Yvonne was first introduced to the PSBA by her father-in-law, Robert (Bob) Crimbring, in the 1960’s when he was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the association. It was the responsibility of the Secretary/Treasurer to publish “The Pennsylvania Beekeeper” newsletter. In 1966 Bob and wife Betsy decided to start spending their winter months in Florida, and gave up the role as Secretary/Treasurer to Russell Wentz, but kept the role as publisher of the newsletter with Yvonne’s help. Russell remained in the position of Secretary/Treasurer and Yvonne continued to help Bob with the newsletter until 1974 when she was nominated and elected as the PSBA Secretary/Treasurer, replacing Russell. Yvonne has sure seen a lot of changes during her 42 years of service.

Back in the 1960s, Bob and Yvonne typed the articles and advertising onto a stencil, Bob using a manual typewriter and Yvonne using a “modern” electric typewriter, then ran the copies off on a mimeograph. For you younger generation out there, the mimeograph was the forerunner to the copier machine. Once the 18 pages were printed, 9 stacks of approximately 500 papers were sorted by hand into complete newsletters. A table was set up in the family living room so, while the several hours of sorting took place, Yvonne could watch TV. After sorting, each newsletter was folded and stapled. The address of each member was then imprinted on the completed newsletter using an addressograph. Growing up we can remember the addressograph being very heavy and you had to “slam” down the big handle so the address would show up on the newsletter. The finished product was then put into boxes and taken to the post office to be mailed.

Here it is, 50 years later and Wow have things changed! When Yvonne took the Secretary-Treasurer position in 1974, to keep track of the members of the association, each member had an index card with their name and address, when annual dues were paid, expiration date all written by hand. If the expiration date passed, Yvonne didn’t discard your card, she simply moved your card to a “delinquent file” and reused it if your membership was paid at a later date. Along with writing on each membership card, Yvonne recorded the information into a notebook as a cross reference of payment. Yvonne still uses this system of recording membership today. Putting out the newsletter was a laborious undertaking and the office looked more like a machine shop with industrious looking machines like the mimeograph, addressograph, electric typewriter and trays of steel plates with the names and addresses.

Now almost 5 decades later there is a Mac computer, copier and Yvonne’s card files. Call her old-fashioned, but she prefers to go to a file located at her fingertips than to look up the information on the computer. because she still prefers the card files over electronic databases. Debbie, Yvonne’s daughter, continues the family tradition of assisting putting out the newsletter. With Yvonne continuing as editor, Debbie creates the newsletter using Adobe InDesign which makes the “copy and pasting” a whole lot easier. The newsletters are bursting with information for the reader, and if space is available some delicious recipes from The National Honey Board’s website are incorporated. One thing time hasn’t changed is the challenge of fitting the advertising and articles into 24 pages! With the lease of a copier, printing, sorting and stapling are completed all at once, and over the last few years, Glenn has also assisted by folding, affixing labels and mailing the newsletter. To keep up with the times, Debbie has been entering the membership information into a computer for ease of sorting, pulling statistics and printing address labels.

The Pennsylvania State Beekeepers’ Association has had 17 President’s during Yvonne’s position as Secretary/Treasurer. Being knowledgeable of the PSBA’s constitution and by-laws, she has assisted each of the officer transitions by guiding and answering questions. She has also traveled across the state attending most PSBA annual meetings and picnics, not only to “take minutes” during the executive meeting but for the fellowship and friendship with members and their spouses that has developed over the years. In recognition of Yvonne’s achievements, she was awarded “Beekeeper of the Year” in 2009, and the years of service to the PSBA was presented a beautiful plaque at this year’s Annual Conference held in November.

Yvonne’s personal life also saw many changes during her service to the PSBA. She and husband, Glenn, raised three children, Debbie (Morse), Wade, and Betsy (May). She was kept busy raising her family along with helping with the farrow-to-finish hog farm that she and Glenn started in 1980. In 2002 they “retired” as farmers due to Yvonne needing and receiving a kidney transplant. Currently in her free time, she enjoys knitting, reading and spending time with her growing family, which includes 6 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

   Debbie (Crimbring) Morse, Wade Crimbring & Rachel (Morse) VerHow

PSBA 'Waggle'

PSBA Waggle is an emailed posting that expedites information that needs to be more timely or specific than the newsletter. Everyone that receives the state newsletter by email, will also receive these posts. They are also available here on the website:
New  Waggle from 11-22-16
Old Waggles are archived along with regular published newsletters.

2016 Annual Conference News and Photos

Beekeeper of the Year
Charlie Vorisek

Kayla Fusselman was selected and crowned at the conference as the new Honey Queen for 2017. Samantha Stouffer was chosen to be the 2017 PA Honey Princess. See our Honey Queen Program page and the Honey Queen Program's Facebook page for details.

The PSBA 2016 Beekeeper of the Year award was presented to Charlie Vorisek at the conference banquet. Congratulations Charlie!

Conference Photos   (Photos by Ken Hoover)

PSBA Bee Friendly Initiative recognizes Bellefonte

Bellefonte has been declared "Bee Friendly"! Read the article at the the Centre Daily Times website.

The Bee Friendly PA Program is an effort designed to recognize communities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for their efforts in supporting honeybee health through legislation, education, pest management, green space care and community support. Municipalities are now encouraged to apply for the Bee Friendly PA designation. Application and further details available at the Bee Friendly Cities PA website. Additional sponsors are also being sought.

Varroa Videos

The Honeybee Health Coalition has posted a series of videos to help beekeepers combat varroa.

Honey contains added sugars?

The Labeling Information released by the FDA indicates that honey sold at retail will need to list "Added Sugars" in the Nutritional Facts label (see item #16). The honey industry fears this will create massive consumer confusion regarding adulteration. Sugars are not added to honey, they are naturally occurring. Adding sugars to honey implies adulteration. Concerns regarding this may be addressed to: Blakeley Fitzpatrick, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-830), Food and Drug Administration at 240-402-5429 or NutritionProgramStaff@fda.hhs.gov and the FDA Food Labeling and Standards Staff at 240-402-2371.

2016 PA State Apiary Inspection

Inspections for the year have ended and are expected to resume in Spring 2017.

Landscapes for Honey Bees Project - Beekeepers wanted!

PSBA will be a sponsor of a new beekeeper-scientist partnership project, "Landscapes for Honey Bees"! The goal is to identify landscape features (land use, forage quality, microclimate) that best support honey bee populations, by working with a network of cooperating beekeepers that cover a wide variety of landscapes, from urban to agricultural to rural.

"The Penn State Center for Pollinator Research is recruiting beekeepers from Pennsylvania and surrounding states to assist in research on how landscape features affect the quality of apiaries. The Landscapes for Bee Project will inform land managers, growers and beekeepers about how to find and create optimum resources for bees." Read more...

Project Website & Registration   More about pollinators

"Why did my honey bees die?"

Wondering what happened? Read the article at beeinformed.org

2016 PA Farm Show Photos

The PA Farm Show was a success and photos have been added to our Farm Show page. Photos courtesy of Charles Vorisek - used by permission.

ABF Complimentary Membership for New Members

The American Beekeeping Federation is offering a free 2016 membership for anyone who has never been a member of ABF. See their website for details.

Sentinel Apiary Project

Bee Informed Partnership is looking for beekeeping groups from across the country who manage 8 or more colonies and are interested to participate in their Sentinel Apiary Project. If you chose to participate, your club will receive monthly disease reports of Nosema and Varroa levels as well as colony health monitoring with hive scales. Data collected can be shared among those in your group, as your Sentinel Apiary will represent beekeeping conditions specific to your region. All personal data collected will remain confidential; however hive scale and disease data from Sentinel apiaries will be on a shared, public website. Subsidies available for the cost of hive scales for qualifying groups. Deadline to apply is April 15th; however enrollment is limited. Details and application available at beeinformed.org.

State declares "Pollinator Week"

June 15-21 designated as Pollinator Week.

Pennsylvania Honey Queen Program

The Pennsylvania Honey Queen Program may be able to provide a speaker for your event. See details and contact information on our Honey Queen page. The honey queen also writes a monthly article detailing her past activities.

Honey Sale Legislation Documents

HB2565
ACT_106
Honey Sale And Labeling Act
Guidelines for the Sanitary Operation of Honey Extracting Facilities
Selling Honey In PA

Bee Behavior Expert Studies Honeybee Swarms

Read the Smithsonian article about Thomas Seeley: "The Secret Life of Bees".

Archived Newsletters

Previous editions of the PSBA Newsletter are now archived online for your convenience.

Pesticide Information

A list of Pesticide descriptions and information is available on our Current Research page.

Protecting Honey Bees from Chemical Pesticides

Documents and Brochures Available in PDF Format

WHO: BTi (used for mosquito control) not toxic to honey bees

Are Honey Bees pollinators and beneficial insects or pests?

Value of Honey Bees in Pennsylvania

Give Honey Bees a Helping Hand

Beekeeping Basics

Zoning Ordinances, Gardens and Honey Bees

Best Management Practices  (updated 6/25/13)

(see the 'Publication Quick Links' below for even more...)

Interested in joining PSBA?

For a list of membership benefits and a form to join the association, see our Membership page.

Publication Quick Links

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