Biographies of Instructors


Jay Heselschwerdt has kept honey bees in multiple states from the North to the South. Jay lives in Tazewell, TN and works as the Eastern Regional Apiary Inspector for the State of Tennessee. Jay also is Co-Founder of the HONEY Convention, President of Bee Friends Bee Club, and the 4H leader for Claiborne Youth Beekeepers. Jay is a Master Beekeeper that learned at the University of Tennessee under Dr. Skinner.

Scott Venable has been keeping honeybees in east Tennessee since 2007, and completed Master Beekeeper certifications at the University of Tennessee. He is also a local inspector for the state of Tennessee. After more than two decades of active military service and numerous deployments, while helping his son get started as a hobby, he found beekeeping to be a peaceful outlet. He supports fellow veterans and works to develop their interest at every opportunity. Beekeeping requires patience, focus, calm hands, and passion, all beneficial traits for both children and veterans. He strongly believes engaging children early in the fascinating world of the honeybee enriches their appreciation of our environment and nature.  He mentors new beekeepers each year and speaks at local meetings, festivals, and outreach events. He often works one on one with prospective beekeepers and curious others to provide a live, hands-on experience in his apiary in Madisonville.  Scott builds most of his hive equipment, and sells honey & pollen, catches swarms and has done many cut-outs from a variety of structures. He is a member of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association, and the Monroe County & Cherokee Beekeepers Associations. He has served several years in elected positions for Monroe County Association, and currently serves as President.


Stuart Dietz started beekeeping in 1973. The spring following graduating from high school after the winter semester, he worked for Howard Weaver & Sons, who produced mostly Caucasian and Midnite queens and package bees. By 1983, he built up to 350 colonies; bottling and selling about 30,000 lbs of honey each year in the Topeka area. He worked under Gary Ross in the Kansas Apiary Inspection Program for three years, and together they made the first documented discovery of varroa in Kansas in 1992. Today, he and his wife, Nita, keep about 50 colonies for honey and sell a few nucs each year.

A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Steve House attended the University of Missouri- Columbia, Asbury Theological Seminary and Oral Roberts University, earning a B.S. in Recreation and Park Administration, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry degrees, respectively.  A recently-retired minister of the United Methodist Church, Steve served many congregations primarily in Southwest Missouri and North Kansas City areas.  For eight years he directed a Christian Ministry Studies degree program at Lindenwood University, St. Charles.  His love for teaching, backpacking, canoeing and camping ministry led to over 36 years leading and directing a variety of youth ministry events including Astronomy Camp and Colorado Trail Hiking.

Having special interests in the witness of creation to the character and purposes of God, Steve is passionate about exploring the complimentary roles of science and faith in understanding the universe and experiencing God.  An additional special interest is celebrating Christian unity among all followers of Jesus Christ.  His personal avocations include Celtic Christian spirituality, astronomy, telescope making, mineralogy, backpacking, nature photography, mountain fly-fishing, canoeing, herpetoculture, model railroading, bonsai, cichlid breeding, and beekeeping.  With his wife Terry, Steve created and directs Starfield Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the witness of the starry heavens to people, including schools, colleges, and other nonprofit groups.

Steve graduated from armchair beekeeping to real bees when he located north of Holden, MO, in 2011.  Starting with three Italian and Carniolan hives, he now keeps about 30 hives in support of local and overseas service and ministry projects.  2017 saw the bottling of 600 pounds of pure and unprocessed local honey.  He is looking forward to a new project in 2018- converting all his Italians to Russian bees.

Hi my name is Cory Knoblauch, and I am 29 years old.  I was born and raised in STL.  After I graduated from high school I went on to study at the University of Missouri.  While I was pursuing a degree in Forest resource management, I was awarded a grant to study in Costa Rica at E.A.R.T.H. University.  The school focused on sustainable agriculture, composting, creating methane from bio-waste, and agro forestry.  Upon returning to the US and finishing my degree the following year I realized I wanted to continue my pursuit of sustainable agriculture.  So I decided to move to Portland, OR and give the farm life a try.  While living in Portland, I found a nice little urban farm to live and work on in the city.  That is where my bee journey began, in the PNW.  While at the farm I started building my own equipment with wood that I found in the old barn.  Thus my first three top bar hives where born.  Since I was a poor farm hand I did not have any extra money, and decided that the best way to get bees was to catch a swarm.  The Portland Urban Beekeepers (PUB) club had a swarm list, so I signed myself up for it and went to a couple meeting’s.  I remember the first meeting I went to was on the topic of raising queen’s and I felt so completely lost and overwhelmed by all the information, but I left excited and opportunistic about the upcoming season.  That first season I caught my first swarm, and started my beekeeping journey.  As well as catching that one swarm I met a woman who had about 30 hives and did really no form of manipulation to any of her hives, and let them swarm as much as they liked.  She would call me regularly during the swarm season to come and fetch a swarm out of her Red wood tree.  At the end of the season I probably pulled 15 swarms out of her tree.  Luckily she let me keep one, and paid me for my troubles gathering the other two swarms!  Catching swarms during swarm season is my favorite part of beekeeping.  I currently have started doing cut outs and live removals as well.  Beekeeping has taught me to move at a slower pace, listen to the what the bees are telling us, and how to be a professional weather man.  I am so glad that the bees found me.  Bzzzzzzzzz


John Pashia is the vice president of the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association and member of the Missouri State and Saint Louis Beekeepers Associations.  John has been keeping bees for over a decade and is a third generation beekeeper who operates approximately 20 colonies in Pevely, MO, for honey production as well as raising nucleus colonies in the spring.  John is a honey bee enthusiast who enjoys spending time in the bee yard as well as the class room teaching beginners and also attends events speaking about the importance of pollinators.

Brad Staggs has been a beekeeper for 7 years. Currently he has 20 active hives, most at his family’s Apple Road Farm. He attended a queen rearing class in 2016 taught by Cory Stevens and has since been rearing his own queens and selling the extras. For the last four years he’s placed bait hives all over the county to catch swarms, and he advertises on Facebook as a swarm catcher.  Many individuals, businesses, and schools have responded with swarm calls. Most of his queen rearing has been using these swarms to find the best stock for his area.  He has a BSE and a BA in instrumental music as well as a BSN in nursing all from MSSU.  He’s currently working as a nurse and has 10 years of experience as a certified teacher in Missouri.  He took some graduate courses at SEMO while a teacher before he made the decision to change careers to nursing.

Dr. Richard C. Wilson, F.A.A.O. graduated from the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry in 1997 where he received special training in pediatrics, ocular disease and contact lenses.  Prior to optometry school, Dr. Wilson graduated from Central Methodist College in 1986, taught public school in rural Missouri, and served in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm.  Dr. Wilson was one of the first optometrists to pass the American Board of Optometry’s Board Certification examination and has participated as principal investigator in dozens of clinical research projects regarding contact lenses, lens care solutions, and myopia reduction in children.

In addition to being a past president of the Missouri Optometric Association Board of Directors, Dr. Wilson also is the proud recipient of the MOA’s 2001 Young Optometrist of the Year award and in 2003 the MOA named him their Optometrist of the Year.  While serving as Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor at the UM – St. Louis College of Optometry, Dr. Wilson has helped educate and prepare the next generation of optometrists for their work in the profession.

Outside of optometry, Dr. Wilson enjoys singing and directing the Circuit Riders, a gospel men’s vocal group as well as playing trombone and bass.  Recently, he and his wife, Janie, have opened their Christmas tree and energy farm, Wilson’s Whispering Pines – including bed and breakfast, bee keeping, Christmas trees, pumpkins, chickens, obstacle course, hiking trails, observatory, tae kwon do studio, and retreat and wedding venue.


Jason Foley – Owner of Foley’s Russian Bees, and Honey Hollow Apiary and Gardens LLC. Jason lives a short distance north of Indianola, Ia. His main occupation is breeding queens and shipping them all over the U.S. Jason became a beekeeper in 2005 with a single hive and a nerdy curiosity. Within a couple of years he did his first grant project and received training in instrumental insemination under Sue Cobey. Since then he has been an active student through the University of Florida’s (UF) master beekeeper program and received his master’s certification in 2016. He is also the recipient of UF’s “Beekeeper of the Year” award for the consecutive years of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Jason is a member of the Iowa Honey Producers Association, the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers, and the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association.


Mike Crawford has been a beekeeper since 2010 and currently keeps between 20-30 hives.  Mike is a retired police officer and runs a small family owned and operated business located in Ashland, KY breeding queen bees and selling honey, bees, queens and beekeeping supplies.  Mike is the founder and current President of the Northeast KY Beekeepers Association as well as a certified queen breeder through the KY Queen Bee Breeders Association.

Charles Linder is a semi retired engineer who lived in the Midwest for most of his life. He has been involved in Agriculture his whole life and had bees a good portion of it. He left industry in 2012 and started commercial operations for bees. He currently runs about 1,000 hives for both honey and pollination. He sends hives to almonds, cranb3erries, blueberries, pumpkins, and some melons.

Ted Garrett has lived in Ledbetter Kentucky most of his life, while 5 years of it he spent away serving in the Army with 1st Calvary Division with 2 separate deployments to the Middle East. When he returned home to where he began his roots he got involved with his local 4-H club and County Extension office as a volunteer.  There he helped develop a Jr. Bee keepers club focusing with children Pre-k to 5th grade.  With his free time Ted manages multiple hives at his house while also responding to swarm calls and whole hive removal from unwanted locations free of charge.  Ted has also taken the time to mentor beginner bee keepers, put on workshops in Lexington Kentucky and gave presentations at his local bee club.  Ted also is the only bee keeper in Western Kentucky to own a Flow Hive.

Joel Gonia is a career-oriented appraiser of personal property, mostly industrial equipment. His agricultural experience includes raising shiitake mushrooms commercially as an alternative crop to tobacco and raising honeybees.  Joel and his wife, Ruth, own and operate HoneyBear Farms in La Grange, KY.  As a non-profit charitable organization, HoneyBear Farms’ purpose is to provide assistance to existing and potential beekeepers, so they can create additional income. They provide educational programs and beekeeping services to all beekeepers, but specifically to those in economically disadvantaged areas.  They host workshops, classes, hands-on demonstrations and sell beekeeping equipment and supplies at their bee farm just north of Louisville, KY. Joel currently manages over 400 hives dedicated to producing honey and raising queens commercially for Dadant & Sons.


Scott Carter joined the army at a very young age and served ten years in infantry.  He worked for Illinois state as a corrections officer and has worked for Caterpillar as a welder. He lived in Colorado for 13 years and started his beekeeping hobby there (2 years). He has lived the majority of his life in Illinois and has been beekeeping here for an additional 7 years.  He has been a president of two bee clubs – Lincoln Land Beekeepers Association and Family Beekeepers of Illinois (25 members in 2 months time!).  He is also a member of the Illinois State Beekeepers. He is on the Board of Directors of three associations related to beekeeping and honeybees.

Tim Lindley has been beekeeping for over 40 years, starting in 1977.  His beekeeping knowledge has been acquired over the years by doing hands on work with the bees as well as attending many seminars and training sessions at various locations.  He has been teaching beginner’s beekeeping classes on his own for over 10 years. In June of 2016, he left his factory job of over 20 years to pursue beekeeping full time.  He is the treasurer of the Illinois Queen Initiative, and has helped teach classes on queen rearing.  Last fall he attended a queen and drone seminar at the University of Kentucky and earned his Queen Breeder’s Certificate.    He currently has 70 hives, teaches beginner’s classes, builds his own hives, and plans to sell nucs and queens this spring and summer with bees bred from his Red-Line Purdue Mite-Biter II breeder queen.

Michael Long – Beekeeper of 12 years and lifelong resident of southern New Jersey.  He recently relocated to Illinois where he continues to work with bees and beekeepers. As an active sideline beekeeper of 60 – 80 colonies in N.J. he provided pollination service to many smaller south Jersey fruit and vegetable growers. A few of the numerous education programs he participated in include Rutgers agricultural extension courses: Basic Beekeeping, Beyond the Basics, and Business Management and Marketing for Beekeepers. He was president of the South Jersey Beekeepers Association in 2011 and involved on the executive board for 6 years. He was also an initial founder and leader for 3 years in the Gloucester County N.J. 4H beekeeping program.

My path to beekeeping came from my love to grow my own food. After several years of gardening bounty I experienced a severe production loss. That was in 2004 and continued into 2006. Doing all that I could as a gardener to remedy the situation my apples revealed the problem was poor pollination. My observation was that the local pollinators the Bumble bee had all but disappeared.  It was the summer of ’06 that I decided give bees a chance. I have been working on behalf of Honey bees and pollinators ever since.

Warren Norris lives in LaSalle Illinois and became interested in beekeeping in 2009. After hearing about the plight of the honey bees due to CCD and other problems, he started doing some research on them. Along with a longtime friend, Warren started to talk about  starting a bee business that fall so they did. After attending a beginning beekeeping class, he was involved in helping to start an association  in northern Illinois in 2010. They went from about 25-30 members the first few years to having over 70 members now.

Warren was the president of the association from 2012-2016. They got the word out to the communities and have been very successful since. He has been going out for the past 4 years giving talks on bees and pollinators to various school children for Earth Week that is sponsored by one of the sand companies in their area. He has also given talks on bees for various city garden clubs, businesses, State Parks, schools, and a master gardener’s seminar at the local community college. He has also given a talk to a beekeeping class at the Kuai Community College in Hawaii.

Warren started with two hives his first year and has grown their business to over 35 hives. He has collected swarms and performed cutouts for people all over their area. The biggest cutout they performed was on the movie set for Jupiter Accending back in 2014. The first of three cutouts they did they were able to save approximately 100,000 bees. It took them 2 ½ days to accomplish this task and to save them. By doing this, Warner Bros. company was awarded an industry “Green Award”. They went back two more times to the farm house that was used in the movie to remove more bees.

Warren believes there is nothing more fascinating than watching bees doing their work and knowing how much they help our environment and our lives.

Cristian Petre has been the Head Beekeeper for the Illinois Sweet Beginnings apiaries for the past 4 years.  He has a hands-on approach on beekeeping, from building his own hives, frames, and experimenting with different kinds of materials for bee housing.  With his beekeeping knowledge based on Eastern European methods, he has constantly looked for ways to better adapt bees to survive the Illinois climate. Over the years, he organized workshops to help bring awareness to the importance of bees, and to help beginning beekeepers with issues related to hive maintenance and development.  He is currently managing 80 hives in 6 locations in Illinois and is also the owner of a no-chemical use bee removal business.

Eleanor Schumacher has worked as an Illinois Apiary Inspector for the Illinois Department of Agriculture since 2010. She served for several years as Secretary/Treasurer of Kaskaskia Country Beekeepers Consortium and St. Clair Beekeepers Association in Southern Illinois. She also served as editor for the Illinois State Beekeepers Association Newsletter from 2012-2015. Nearing completion of her studies and research in Pollination Ecology at University of Illinois, she expects to graduate with an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences this May. Eleanor currently runs 40 hives, with a focus on honey production and queen rearing.

Jim Wellwood was born and raised in Elmhurst, Illinois and attended York high school. After graduating he attended Bradley University and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After a short career in engineering and not one to sit behind a desk Jim became a full-time fireman for the Carol Stream FD and retired in 2010 after 22 years of service. Jim married his high school sweetheart and has 7 children and almost 9 grandkids. Jim started beekeeping in 1991 back when varroa was not an issue. He had up to 30 hives and made it a family activity. After the fire service Jim became an apiary inspector for the ILL Dept of Ag in the Bloomington/Normal/ Peoria section of the state. Jim teaches a lot of classes in beekeeping and for the fire service. Jim is also an amateur musician playing baritone, trombone and tuba in many different ensembles. Jim also lives on a small farm raising many different animals and crops.


Jerry Freeman was born on 9/11/1944 and graduated high school in 1962. He started work for Georgia Pacific in 1964.  His beekeeping hobby and passion started in 1970. He has a BS degree in Management and retired from GP in 2004.

Christopher St. Peter is the Vice President of his local bee club and a member of the Arkansas Beekeepers Association. He is also a member of the University of Arkansas Master Gardeners program and Ouachita Hosta and Shade Plant Society. He manages 50 plus hives, teaches beginning beekeeping classes, and mentors beekeepers. He is an avid gardener of vegetables, fruit trees, landscape shrubs, and flowers. Chris is starting a new project this year with a hands-on training bee yard. Chris does many public outreach programs in his community in which he gives presentations to local schools, churches, nursing homes, local clubs, farm supply stores, county library and county fair, (whoever will listen). He also helps maintain many flower and shrubbery beds throughout county with his Master Gardner friends.

James Rhein has been a beekeeper for 40+ years and manages 50+ colonies. He is the former President of the Arkansas Beekeepers Association. He is the President of 2 local clubs. He teaches beginning beekeeping classes, mentors beekeepers, and sells bees and beekeeping supplies.


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