International speaker Ian Steppler will speak at Maine beekeeping symposium

Photo by Anne Cowin | BDN
Photo by Anne Cowin | BDN
Peter Cowin, also known as the Bee Whisperer, and the young beekeepers of Hampden Academy.
The beekeeping symposium is open to all for an admission fee of $25 which includes morning coffee and lunch if booked before Nov. 5. F
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In 2013, I, along with a few other local beekeepers, established a local chapter of Maine State Beekeepers Association. I wanted to be sure that all those new beekeepers I was introducing to the hobby in adult education classes had more than just myself as a resource from whom to seek advice.

Penobscot County Beekeepers Association is now a very active group of beekeepers dedicated to the promotion of local beekeeping and education of beekeepers to have more success with their bees.

The club meets monthly at Dysart’s Restaurant on Broadway at 6 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month. Club meetings provide local beekeepers an opportunity to share information, socialize and often learn new skills from guest speakers or specialists in their fields. In the summer months the club also has ”Open Hive” meetings where members host gatherings to examine their own hives: a wonderful hands-on learning experience, especially for beginners.

I have had the pleasure of being president of the association since 2013. During that time we have involved hundreds of members in club activities including: club meetings, open hive meetings, garden shows, harvest festivals, school visits, farmers markets, talks at other beekeeping and garden clubs and much more. In 2015, the club hosted the Maine State Beekeepers Association’s annual meeting and conference for more than 220 beekeepers.

On Saturday, Nov. 16, the club will be hosting a special day of beekeeping talks with keynote speaker Ian Steppler from Manitoba, Canada. Ian runs 1,500 hives on his farm and will talk about the growth of his operation from small to large scale and the management techniques he employs. His popular YouTube channel, A Canadian Beekeeper’s Blog, is hugely educational. I have been watching his videos for some time. I find them particularly relatable, too, because he has to deal with weather not unlike our own. He is doing, on a grand scale, many of the husbandry techniques I like to use and used to discuss with my friend and mentor the late great Harold Swan. Other speakers will include Tucka Saville of Tucka Bee in New York, and representatives of many of the state’s regional beekeeping clubs, including the kids at Hampden Academy, to give a brief outline of beekeeping activities happening statewide.

The beekeeping symposium is open to all for an admission fee of $25 which includes morning coffee and lunch if booked before Nov. 5. For those reading this on line you can register for the symposium by clicking this link.

You can also email the club at, and you will be sent a link to register and pay. Alternatively, you can mail a check payable to PCBA for $25 per person to PCBA, 824 North Main St, Winterport ME 04496. Please include your name, address and phone number. Payment will also be accepted at the door, but lunch will not be included in that case. The event will be at the new Hampden Academy, 89 Western Ave, Hampden. Doors open at 9 a.m. for a 10 a.m .start. The event is expected to close at about 4 p.m.

Peter Cowin, aka The Bee Whisperer, is President of the Penobscot County Beekeepers Association. His activities include honey production, pollination services, beekeeping lessons, sales of bees and beekeeping equipment and the removal of feral bee hives from homes and other structures. Check out “The Bee Whisperer” on Facebook, email or call 207-299-6948.


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