Board Members and Staff

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, President

Dennis graduated with a master’s degree in apiculture at Guelph and has since worked for the Canadian Government as a consultant to the Antigua Beekeepers Cooperative in the West Indies. He returned north to work at Cornell University as an extensionist then moved to the University of Maryland in 2012 and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland after working as the Acting State Apiarist for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through a contract with Penn State University, where he also earned his PhD. He has served as the President of the Apiary Inspectors of America, is a founding member of the Colony Collapse Working Group, and a former board member of Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Bee Board.

George Hansen, Vice President

After a short six year career as a public school teacher, George transformed a hobby beekeeping operation into a commercial endeavor. The business started from a few swarms and a collection of retrieved nuisance hives, but now runs 5000 + colonies in three states. Sons Matt and Joe are incrementally taking control of the business, as George moves towards an as yet undefined retirement. Although the name of the company never changed, the focus of the beekeeping is now primarily pollination service, with honey, wax and bee sales making up no more than 30 percent of gross revenues. George is an active member of the beekeeping community, promoting the industry’s interests as past president of the American Beekeeping Federation, a producer representative on the National Honey Board as well as a trustee on the Foundation for the Preservation of the Honey Bee. Currently George represents the industry on the national Honey Bee Health Coalition, and in Oregon on the Governor’s Task Force on Honey Bee Health. For twenty years, he has hosted an annual Bee Day workshop and orientation at the Foothills Honey Company home site.

Geoff Williams, Treasurer

Geoff Williams is an Assistant Professor in Auburn University’s Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology. Dr. Williams grew up in Western Canada and obtained a B.Sc. from the University of Alberta. He then headed east for doctoral studies at Dalhousie University, before hopping across the Atlantic – to the University of Bern – for post-doctoral work. During this time, Dr. Williams gained valuable bee experience across North America, Europe, and Asia. Auburn’s Bee Lab is primarily focused on understanding the effects of exotic parasites and agricultural chemicals on honey bees, as well as developing new Best Management Practices for beekeepers.

Ramesh Sagili, Secretary

Dr. Ramesh Sagili is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. He obtained his PhD in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2007 specializing in honey bee research. He has Bachelors and a Masters degree in Agriculture from A.P. Agricultural University, India. His primary research focus at OSU is honey bee health, nutrition and pollination. His appointment also includes extension and hence he works closely with the state stake holders i.e. both beekeepers and producers.

Karen Rennich, Executive Director

Karen Rennich is based out of the University of Maryland’s Entomology Department and is the project manager for the honey bee lab. She works closely with all members of the BIP team and other organizations throughout the U.S. and gets to tackle everything from data analysis to field work and all jobs in between to keep BIP’s goals in sight and moving forward. She has a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Purdue University and an M.S. in Ocean Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. She has been a beekeeper for 9 years and manages 12 colonies at home.

David Mendes

David Mendes has been a commercial beekeeper for 35+ years. He is the owner of Headwaters Farm, of N Fort Myers, FL, which provides hives to pollinate California almonds, Maine blueberries, and Massachusetts cranberries. David has been an active proponent of bee research and extension to improve beekeeper management. He is the former President of the American Beekeeping Federation, a member of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, a Board Member of Project Apis m, and a Trustee of the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey bees. He is also a life member of the Florida State Beekeepers Association and the Eastern Apicultural Society. When not tied up in conference calls and Board meetings, he operates 12,000+ beehives for pollination and honey production. He is very appreciative to his manager and great staff that keep the bees alive and healthy.

Marla Spivak

Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. Her research efforts focus on understanding and breeding for bees’ natural defenses against diseases and parasites. She and students also study ways to propagate floral rich and pesticide-free landscapes to support the nutrition, health and diversity of all bee pollinators.

John Miller

John Miller is a past President of the California State Beekeepers Association (CSBA). John is a fourth-generation beekeeper. He has kept bees for 36 years. John owns Miller’s Honey Farms, Inc. based in Blackfoot, ID with branches in Gackle, ND and Newcastle, CA. He also owns Miller Honey Mandarins of Newcastle, CA where he grows seedless Owari-Satsuma Mandarins on C-35 Rootstock. John is a partner in En-R-G Foods, Inc. of Steamboat Springs, CO, manufacturers of honey-based energy bars, gels, protein bars and energy chews. John is a former 2-term chair of the National Honey Board. As the subject of The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus, John epitomizes the American migratory beekeeper and ‘how one man and a half a billion honey bees help feed’ a nation. His TED talk can be found at: John is married to Professor Jan H. Miller, Microbiology, American River College. They have four children and four grandchildren.

Patrick Heitkam

Pat Heitkam has been keeping bees since he took a colony for payment at his bike shop. That was 35 years ago, and he is now a major queen breeder in Northern California, a honey producer and a commercial pollinator. He owns Heitkam’s Honey Bees in Orland, California, with his son Russell. He has served the beekeeping industry on the Board and also as President of several organizations over the years, including the American Beekeeping Federation, the California State Beekeepers Association, and the California Bee Breeders Association. He is currently Vice President of Bee Informed Partnership, Inc. and is a cooperator with honey bee breeding and research projects, and also projects to develop honey bee forage throughout the USA.



Grant Review and Award Committee

Eric Mussen

Eric Mussen is an Extension Apiculturist. He has Responded to thousands of individual contacts and cooperated with media personnel from newspapers, radio, and television to provide the best honey bee information possible to their clientele. He became intimately involved with the organization, development, and management of two national honey bee organizations: the Western Apicultural Society and the American Association of Professional Apiculturists.

Shane Gebauer

Shane Gebauer became a beekeeper about 12 years ago with one hive in his backyard. Within a year of having his first hive, he left his job as an Ecologist with The Nature Conservancy to manage a commercial outfit which sold bee supplies and ran 300 colonies in upstate NY. He worked there for about 4 years, when an opportunity presented itself to become the General Manager of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm in North Carolina, a manufacturer and international supplier of beekeeping supplies. He is currently the president of Brushy and he continues to keep bees in his backyard.

Jim Tew

My professional interest is honey bee behavior and biology, with a strong leaning toward practical beekeeping. Using these web pages, I hope to be able to communicate with beekeepers of all types and interests – not just for me to distribute information, but also for me to get information. Increasingly, the bee industry has been using “crowd sourcing” as a way to develop new information and distribute that information through social media devices. Jim has been keeping bees for over 40 years. He has a Ph.D. in entomology and is currently a consulting professor at Auburn University, where he conducts beekeeping educational programs and maintains social media systems that support the Alabama beekeeping industry.


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