Bees: Guests (2013)
Dr. Ron Bitner
Entomologist and vintner, Caldwell
Dr. Ron Bitner is an Idaho native and internationally known bee biologist. Born and raised in Midvale, educated at The College of Idaho, Purdue University and Utah State University, he has always had a life-long passion for all things Idaho. His profession as a recognized authority on bees has allowed him to travel the globe as a consultant in that area. He spent ten years traveling to Australia, where he helped develop a protocol to safely introduce a much needed new pollinator from Canada to Australia. His travels there also introduced him to the Australian world of vineyards and wines. Ron has worked closely with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a hybrid seed company, as their bee consultant for more than 35 years.
Dr. Bitner is past President of the National Wine Grape Growers Association and currently a Board member of WineAmerica. Bitner Vineyards was the Northwest Wine Press magazine's 2009 Idaho Winery of the Year. He received the 2011 Purdue University John V. Osmun Achievement award in Entomology and is currently a Trustee at the College of Idaho.
Berry farmer and beekeeper, Twin Falls
Kirk grew up on a farm in South Eastern Idaho. He loves the outdoors, and all the activities that Idaho has to offer for an outdoorsman. He has worked as a firefighter and as a wildlife specialist for USDA, and is now the manager of the Twin Falls County Pest Abatement District. He also runs Tubbs' Berry Farm with his wife and 4 children. In addition to growing berries, the farm houses a complete beekeeping supply store, and Kirk and his family teach beekeeping classes and workshops onsite. Kirk is also frequently asked to present beekeeping information to schools and organizations around the community. He is also a founding member of the Magic Valley Beekeepers Association, which provides the community with swarm removal services and provides mentorship and information sharing opportunities for the community.
Kirk claims his interest in beekeeping began as a small boy hearing stories of the colony his grandmother kept in a suitcase. His own apiary started many years ago out of a need for pollinators for the berries his family grows, and has expanded as the demand for the specialty honeys his bees produce has grown. He also raises queens on a small scale and is selecting for bees that survive well in the Magic Valley. Kirk also uses and encourages new integrated pest management approaches in both county insect control and farming practices that are both effective and friendly to pollinators.
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