Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Sept. 12, 2022

Bee Time with Mark Winston (S5, E13)

Bee Time with Mark Winston (S5, E13)

Mark Winston joins us on today’s episode. Mark just retired from Simon Frazer University in British Columbia. For many years his research focused on honey bees, beekeeping and agriculture. For about a decade he was a regular contributor to Bee...


Mark Winston joins us on today’s episode. Mark just retired from Simon Frazer University in British Columbia. For many years his research focused on honey bees, beekeeping and agriculture. For about a decade he was a regular contributor to Bee Culture magazine, where he explored the biology of honey bees, and the sociality of beekeepers.

His writings include the books The Biology of The Honey Bee, Killer Bees, Nature Wars (his observations on agricultural pesticides), From Where I Sit: Essays on Bees, Beekeeping and Science, Travels in Genetically Modified Crops (his perspectives on genetically modified plants) and his two thoughtful observations of the relations of bees and man in Bee Time, Lessons From The Hive, and his last bee book, Listening To The Bees (how bees, people and society and people are alike).

He took that level of thought from bees and applied it to people where he began working in his university’s new Center For Dialogue. There he achieved wide recognition as a distinguished educator, consultant and communicator.

Our talk with Mark looks back on his time in honey bee research, his books on bees and beekeepers and some of his newer work on communications.

** Correction: In the opening, Jeff mistakenly refers to the product "Apistan". Apistan is the product name of the acaricide fluvalinate. The Amitraz product he should have referenced is Apivar. We apologize for any confusion and misdirection.

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura

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This episode is brought to you by Global PattiesGlobal PattiesGlobal offers a variety of standard and custom patties. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry.

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.

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We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; A Fresh New Start by Pete Morse; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC

Transcript

S5, E13 – Bee Time with Mark Winston

[music]

Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honey bee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brew production, and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honey bees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs.

No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.

Jeff: Thanks, Sherry. Thank you, Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support, and we know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.

Hi everybody. Thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five-star rating. It really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes, check them out. You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question, ours or listeners', click on leave a comment at the top of the episode's show notes to join the discussion.

Have you listened to an episode and thought, "That person sounds really interesting, I'd like to know more about them?" Now you can. Each episode links to a guest profile. Each profile has a guest photo, bio, contact information, including Instagram and Twitter details, if they have them. Check it out. Finally, share the podcast with your beekeeping friends, email them links, or mention it at your next beekeeper meeting. Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. We are glad you are here. I can't believe it is nearly the middle of September already.

It seems like only a week ago I was putting supers on the hives and now, I'm finishing taking them off and preparing the colonies for fall in that should I say? The W time of year.

Fall is a time when you want to inspect your colonies, check the varroa mite levels and treat accordingly. I strongly suggest you use a Honey Bee Health Coalition's Varroa Management guide to help you decide which treatment modality to follow based on your own management approach. [chuckles] That's a sneak preview to next week's episode. Do you treat with Apivar or specifically the chemical Amitraz?

If so, you might want to listen to this week's episode of Dr. Kirsten Traynor, 2 Million Blossoms podcast. In the episode, she talks with Dr. Adrian Fisher about his research on the effects of Amitraz on drone, larvae, sperm development, and viability. Does the residual Amitraz in beeswax really have an impact on drone sperm development, and therefore the productivity of queens? Listen to the episode at www.2millionblossoms.com and that's with the number two.

We have a really good show for you today with Dr. Mark Winston, who recently retired as a professor and senior fellow at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mark is a leading expert of honey bees and has written extensively about them, including in his award-winning book, Bee Time:  Lessons from the hive. Mark has a unique and poetic writing style that will pull you into his world and vision of just how important honeybees are to us all. If you get only one book this year on honey bees, I suggest you consider Bee Time:  Lessons from the hive. We'll be hearing from Mark directly, but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.

[music]

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Strong Microbials' SuperDFM-Honeybee uses naturally occurring bacteria to restore the healthy gut biome of your honey bees. Check them out today at www.strongmicrobials.com.

Jeff: While you're on the Strong Microbials' site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive, the regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey everybody, welcome back to the show. Sitting across a virtual Zoom table right now is Mark Winston from Simon Fraser University up in the Vancouver, BC area. Many of you may know Mark from all of his writings and we'll get into all that. Mark welcome to the show.

Mark Winston: Such a pleasure to be here.

Kim: It's good to see you again, Mark. It's been too long. Jeff, you probably remember Mark wrote for Bee Culture for, I guess it was about 10 years, way back when he was getting started and I was getting started there. He did a great column. I was sorry to see him go, but when he finally left, he took off in a lot of different directions. First off, tell me what you did when you first started at Simon Fraser. You were doing just basic bee research, right?

Mark: Yes. When I first started at SFU, I came out of the job as a bee researcher, but I was very fortunate to be taken under the wing of a couple of guys here in Canada, John Corner, the former provincial agriculturist, and Kim Jay, a professor at the University of Manitoba. They took me all around the country, introduced me to beekeepers and they reminded me that bees are a wonderful entry point into science, into basic biology, but also into agriculture, and into the applications.

Right from day one, my lab was invested in doing the basic research that we're expected to do at our university, but also I and my students were constantly out in the beekeeping community, hearing what beekeepers needed, doing research for beekeepers, going to beekeeping meetings, giving talks, and from that, getting more involved in the whole spectrum of agriculture. We started off in that multiprong way.

Kim: You got a good start and then you decided it was time to write some books. I've got them all sitting here.

Mark: I have no idea how I did that because looking back on it, writing a book is a huge undertaking. Between running a lab, having a family, doing some other things in the community that I lived in, and I have no idea where I found the time to write books. The first book I wrote was The Biology of the Honey Bee. To my amazement, still sells 1,000 copies a year. Very outdated, but also it's the only book out there that covers honey bee biology. It wasn't until I wrote that book that I really had a sense of the full spectrum of what we knew about honey bees.

I think at that time, the amount we knew was limited enough that one person could grasp it. I don't think today that there is one person who could actually cover all of honey bee biology because the knowledge we have is exploded. Writing of that book, I guess it got the writing boat going because I've written six books since then. Some about bees, some about agriculture, pest management, some about genetically modified crops, but the first book I wrote, The Biology of the Honey Bee was what really got me rolling in the writing direction.

Jeff: Is that something that you plan on updating?

Mark: No. People ask me this a lot because it really desperately needs to be updated. I have been fishing around for somebody who might want to take on updating the book but had no luck so far because it's such a massive undertaking. That book was inspired by a book from about 1961 by a fellow named Ronald Ribbons who wrote a book called-- it might have been called The Social Behavior of The Honey Bee, or something like that. It came out in the early 60s. He was a British bee scientist who worked for the government agency in England and was tragically killed in a car crash.

It's a beautifully written book, very readable, fascinating, and that was my template, I thought, "Ribbons wrote this book in '61. Now it's the mid-1980s. It's time for another person to write it." I used his approach of let's try to make this a readable book as well, not too academic. I'm really hoping somebody picks up the torch and carries it on and either updates my version or writes their own.

Jeff: It's a great book.

Kim: That won't be me. Trust me.

[laughter]

Mark: I do. At our age, we look at writing a book and think, "Let's let some of the younger people do that one."

Kim: Exactly. Some of the topics you covered in your books though are I'm going to say relatively timeless. The one I'm referring to, I think it's your last one, Listening to the Bees, Bee Time. That one, I'm pretty close to being right when I say timeless, you hit on all of the things that make beekeeping what it is to the people who love to do it.

Mark: There were two books, Bee Time that came out in 2014, and then the book, Listening to the Bees. I have a set of essays that I co-wrote with poet, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, and the two of them together I think stand as twin pillars, what you might call a love letter to the bees. I had gotten to a point in my life where I started to think about legacy and have a little more time to reflect on things I've done and what's happened. I just really realized how deeply, how profoundly working with bees and bees and beekeepers has affected me.

I've become a lot more and a much better listener, much more able to slow down and really listen to nature around me, but also the people, and also are a lot more concerned about what's happening to bees. Those things all came together into Bee Time and then a book I came out with a couple of years ago, Listening to the Bees. I would say, yes, they're timeless. I think they touched on that thing about bees, not only honeybees but wild bees as well, that thing about bees that just really seems to attract people, not just beekeepers, but there's so much interest in bees. They're just such an unbelievably interesting and significant and environmentally important set of organisms.

In that way, I think biology eventually it goes out of date, but Bee Time, Listening to the Bees, I think those will be with us for a long time.

Kim: Like I said, timeless, I think pretty much went back and looked quick at both of them and that was the word that came up after about a minute and a half reviewing both of them again. Going back a few years before that though, you were looking at some stuff that was fairly controversial and I'm thinking mostly about Nature Wars and the pesticide problem and wonder what your thoughts are that came out, I want to say '99 or so. That's back about 10, 12 years. Has it gotten better? Has it gotten worse, the situation?

Mark: I think our situation in agriculture, in general, has gotten worse rather than better. Pesticide impacts are increasing. I am one of those in the camp who believes that one of the most significant factors in the current decline of honeybees and wild bees has been pesticide impact. Not just from one pesticide, but from the 1,000 little cuts that we get from the many pesticides that are used out in fields by farmers, but also by beekeepers. Beekeepers have become just as guilty of overusing chemicals as the farm community that used to decry their excessive pesticide use and now we seem to have gotten sucked into the same pattern.

Agriculture's gotten bigger if anything, more mono-crops, more lack of diversity in fields. I'd say since Nature Wars came out, the situation has become even murky.

Kim: I think I have to agree with that. I have a thing about putting poison in a beehive and the choices that you have to maintain and to continue as a beekeeper are tough to make. After some of this, you went on then and you went to work for the Morris Wosk Centre for Dialogue. That's when you, I'm not going to say, drifted away from bees and beekeeping, but you became less visible to people like me. Then the work you did there wasn't how to harvest honey. That's for sure.

Mark: It's interesting. A lot of journalists, when I've asked you that question, how does a guy who works with bees end up being the founding director of a center for dialogue? I really thought about that a lot because it doesn't feel that different to me than what I used to do. I think there's really two connectors between my past bee life and my more current life in the center for dialogue. One is that bees are highly collaborative and highly communicative.

Spending so much time with my head inside of a beehive really helped me to appreciate the importance of collaborating across the wide spectrum of perspectives and opinions we have in our world, and also about the importance of honest and direct communication under many channels. Bees are constantly dialoguing with each other, transferring information, and making decisions about what to do, these honey bees depending on what they hear. The other thing was a little more human.

During my time in the beekeeping community, I got quite involved in a lot of controversies and they spilled over into agriculture, pesticide stuff, controversies about how agriculture was done, then I got interested in genetically modified crops and their impacts on bees. Through that, I wrote another book about how we communicate to each other, how we humans communicate about issues, and how debate was not getting us to the places needed to go. All those things came together for me when our university built a building, the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, but they didn't have any idea of programming to put into it.

I asked and was granted the opportunity to work down there, both teaching students, but also doing a lot of public outreach work, taking the difficult issues of the day, going well beyond bees and agriculture, and finding a different way to talk about them. In that way, I think it's quite connected to my earlier career. Different topic, but it's always been the same basic idea of how can we talk to each other better? How can we listen to each other better? How can we understand and accept diverse perspectives and still find a way to move forward on difficult issues?

Kim: A lot of people could use some background in that right now in the world I'm thinking. [chuckles]

Mark: Yes. It's not going away.

Kim: Maybe we should be digging it out and getting that information back to some of the people running the show here.

Mark: That's for sure.

Kim: There's a lot of things that you did in that center, the things that you were teaching people, and you just touched on basically what communication probably is. Everything comes in second after that. By doing that, you've won a lot of awards in your world, and I'm not familiar with those in terms of where they come from and why you were given them. Do you want to take a look at some of those?

Mark: I hardly ever talk about my awards. I'm a bit embarrassed to bring it up. I'd say a lot of them have to do with science communication. Part of my career is involved not only my joy, but also obligation of feeling that scientists need to do a better job of communicating with the public, but I've done a lot of teaching and mentoring around that. Of course, my own communication and the books and the articles I wrote in the 10 years of Bee Culture is a great example.

Those were articles written by a scientist that I would argue were eminently approachable by anybody at any education level and any background because that was important to me. I think we all should work hard to make sure we can communicate. A lot of the awards had to do with the work I spent with science communication, Bee Time won the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction, which is, I don't know in the US, but it's a pretty big deal in Canada. It was the same thing. It was an award for my writing that involved taking topics that could be difficult to approach and writing about them in a way that could really resonate with the public.

There's one other award I want to mention actually, just popped into my head. Nature Wars, the book you mentioned earlier about pests and pesticides, it won this Sterling Award for controversy. That was a really important moment for me because I didn't think it was a very controversial book. It was pretty well balanced. It talked about pesticides critically, but I wouldn't say it was a rant. The pesticide industry was really angry because they thought it was anti-pesticides, but environmentalists, some of them were also angry because they thought it was too soft on pesticides and too interested in genetically modified crops.

It won the award because you got attacked on both sides. It won the award for being a book that was well balanced and well reasoned and well thought through and not a rant. I thought, "Wow. If that's what's controversial in our society, we need a center for dialogue to [chuckles] figure out how we're going to talk to each other." That award was actually another thing that got me going with the Morris J Wosk Centre.

Kim: Let's take this quick opportunity to hear from one of our sponsors, Betterbee.

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Kim: Mark, I didn't mean to embarrass you and make you talk about specific awards, but I really wanted you to bring out even more on the value of communication. I think I can safely say there's hardly any communication going on in the world at the moment. Unfortunately, people, you're either this or that, and there isn't much in between. What you've done is two things. One is you've pointed out the value of good communication, and then you've shown what can occur when you do it right. I'm hoping people take that away from this message is that take a half step back and listen instead of yelling all of the time. One of the other things that I wanted to bring up was the fact that you're stepping down.

Mark: Yes. From the day we're recording today, I'm retiring in one week. I'm retiring at the end of August this year.

Kim: Big plans, any plans, some plans? I, having recently done the same thing, have found it to be quite confusing. How's that for simple? [chuckles]

Mark: I think I've effectively been retired for a bit of time. Things really slowed down in my world because of COVID, and I just let that slide down towards retirement. It's going to official at the end of August. I'm also really slowed down since then. It's given me a pause to think about what do I want to do. I realized that the things that I did were exactly the things that I love to do. I love to write, I love to teach. I love talking to people. I love the opportunity to help other people with their own communication. I think I'll continue doing a bit of that.

I mentor writers in a program that I'm involved in and occasionally teach a writing course for the public and things like that. I'll probably do a project or two at the Center for Dialogue. Keep a little bit of a level of work. I am honestly comfortable with the idea of spending a typical day getting up in the morning, reading the newspaper, going out for coffee with a friend, taking a walk or having a swim, coming back and reading another book. Maybe watching a Toronto Blue Jays game, I've become a big fan of the Blue Jays.

My wife and I really get along and I just love being in her proximity. She's just the warmest, kindest, sweetest person you could imagine. Even just sitting around being in a room with her makes my day. I've come to terms with the idea that I'm no longer needing to accomplish a lot of stuff. I can do a few things here and there, but mostly just smelling the roses. If I get tired with that, I imagine I'll pick up some projects, but at the moment, I'm really thinking, yes. Oh, and the grandkids. You don't want to forget the grandkids. They don't live near us. We have to travel to see them, but spending time with the grandkids is another real joy.

Kim: I don't have grandkids, but reading the paper in the morning and a cup of coffee and a swim. I've actually watched more baseball in the last year than I have my whole entire life up until last year. That's been a strange discovery for me. It sounds like you've got this figured out. It should be an enjoyable time. I guess I have to say, what have we missed that you want to say?

Mark: No, it's interesting talking about baseball because I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, outside of Cleveland. I was a big Indians fan when I was growing up and I loved watching baseball. Then I got busy with things, moved to Boston, became a basketball fan, watched the Boston Celtics. When I moved to Canada in 1980, I became a big hockey fan, but hockey is a very different getting than baseball. It's really hard getting and fast-paced. Now that I'm retiring, I find baseball just suits me to a team. It's slow, it takes three or four hours. Every game has a story. It's not just a sport. Sport is about a story.

You get to know the players, things happen that you've never seen before. It reminds me of sticking my head into a beehive. I open a beehive, time slows down for me and my senses are all on alert. I'm really much more aware of what's happening. I think baseball is like that too. It's a slow game, but when you learn to appreciate it, it's just really a pace that allows you to go deep and really understand the small and subtle things that really drive our world. I think baseball fits in quite well with my-- If I'm not going to spend time in the eighth period then I'm spending time watching-- baseball seems just about pretty similar.

Jeff: Where in the Cleveland area did you grow up? I'm originally from Cleveland area in Lakewood.

Mark: Are you now?

Jeff: Yes.

Mark: I grew up in South Euclid. I can honestly remember 2088 Campus Drive Evergreen 2814 is my phone number. Why I remember that I don't know. It was a great place to grow up. It was at the edge of the city at the time. Although I know the city's expanded since then. I get up in the morning, get on my bike, go out, walk around a lot of parks nearby. I go to a community center and hang around with my friends and maybe or maybe not I'd come home at night for dinner. It was that upbringing that all of us think. Maybe it doesn't happen wit kids anymore, but that was my upbringing just going out.

Then I read a lot of books. When I wasn't biking out with my friends, I was reading books and it was a great place to grow up. Where was your part of Cleveland?

Jeff: I grew up in the Lakewood area - in Lakewood.

Mark: Oh, Lakewood?

Jeff: Yes. Obviously, I grew up at a time when the Indians were not winning. I had never really developed a fondness for baseball. [laughs]

Mark: Boy, when I was growing up, the Indians every year would come down to the Labor Day weekend series against the Yankees, and whoever won that series was going to go on to the playoffs of the world series. Every year the Indians would lose. It was amazing. I did see one of the most profound moments in sports I've ever seen in my life watching the Indians. It was one of those games bottom of the ninth tie game. Minnie Miñoso was on third base and just out of the blue, he stole home. I was at the game and I was watching it. I saw him steal home and the Indians won.

They went on to lose the next game or two and still didn't go to the world series. It was just one of those moments you never forget, Minnie Miñoso stealing home.

Jeff: The only thing I can think of is I was at one of the last games at the old Municipal Stadium. I was thinking that that's no longer there and now they have the Jacobs Stadium. It's cool. A lot of changes.

Mark: I'm a pretty progressive guy and I'm really glad they changed the name from the Cleveland Indians, but Guardians? Come on. What kind of name is that? Cleveland Guardians.

[laughter]

Mark: I'm glad the name was changed. Boy, they needed to think about changing it into something better.

Kim: That's the team I listened to. I'm not far from where you guys grew up in Madina so that's the team I'm listening to. I guess I don't have a feeling one way or another about the name, but listening to you talk about time slowing down when you're watching a baseball game. The other half of that is at least for me is you can do two things at once. I'm good at reading the paper and then I don't watch the other team bat so much as I do with the Cleveland team. Then when the Cleveland team comes up, I put the paper down and that's when I pay attention. It's a lot like a beehive, you're exactly right. It's interesting.

The thing that you mentioned, you can be watching and it's slow and it's slow, and bang, something happens. I just got stung.

Mark: That wakes you right up. Doesn't it? It's funny that I don't know if just being around bees accented and augmented parts of my personality or if they were all there, to begin with. I think I just genuinely feel-- I got involved in bees in 1975. Did a lot of things before that, but that was my first encounter with bees. I immediately felt like I had found my home. This was my organism. I got it. I think bees really increased my natural tendency to collaborate. Really increased my interest and interaction with people, but also with nature. It really helped me to slow down if you work really fast--

A lot of commercial beekeepers will go in and out of a period, whip in, whip out, and do their job. That's one way to keep bees. When you're doing research or you're more of a hobby beekeeper, it's really a time to slow it down. It's spilled over into every aspect of my life. At work when I used to go to work my door is always open and it always to people, seemed like there was nothing on my desk. People would walk in and I have lots and lots of time to talk. I think I learned that from bees that you spend a lot of your time-- bees spent a lot of their time resting.

They don't actually work as hard as we think and trying to think some of that spilled over to me as well. I really learned the importance of resting and being available for whatever happens that you might need to react to or benefit from. I am eternally grateful for whatever coincidence has led me into the beekeeping world. I've made such amazing friends in the human world, it's affected who I am so deeply. Gave me the opportunity to feel like I was doing something in the academic world that was of interest and important to the rest of the world that I really was earning my pay.

When I stepped down from bees and went for the Center for Dialogue, I thought I was done with bees. In fact, I gave a last talk at the Houston Agricultural Society. It was filmed by a Canadian show called The Nature of Things. It was doing a profile about my life and my leaving bees. On camera for millions of people to watch, I just broke down. I was bawling my eyes out because it was such an emotional moment for me. I had left the Bee Culture writing behind as well, but I'm not done with bees. I still write about bees. I don't give many talks anymore, but I'm still involved in the beekeeping world.

I realize that you don't really end, that there's still ways of staying involved even if you're not active in bee research. Bees are important to me.

Jeff: Just to remind our listeners that you are still writing for the Bee Culture and doing an occasional review and other articles.

Mark: Kim was a fantastic editor. I don't mind telling you that, Kim, but he let me write what I wanted. Said some controversial things. He never shut me down. There were one or two times when he would call me up and say, "You can publish this if you want, but it's actually not that good."

[laughter]

Mark: I actually appreciated that because he was keeping me from embarrassing myself. The current editor, Jerry he's kindly agreed to let me publish a few pieces. I usually do reviews, book reviews, or reviews of films, documentaries. Just did a thing on a business in Alberta and how they were selling their honey. It's not the pressure of a monthly column which can be quite a bit better. Some of the writers for Bee Culture have been going for, I don't know how many decades they still come up with new things to write. I have the pleasure of writing occasionally without that pressure of a monthly column.

Kim: Jeff, I don't know if you've read any of Mark's reviews recently, but they're almost as long as the book he's reviewing. When you're done, you know more about the book than maybe even the author does, but they're quite well. They dissect the parts of the books that are important. I enjoy reading them.

Jeff: Absolutely. I will admit, my first exposure to your writing was Bee Time, and I found that very fascinating and really enjoyed the book. I'm looking forward to exploring your other writings as well. I did like the poetic writing style that you have. It wasn't just all matter of fact. It flowed nicely.

Mark: I think I like to teach people about science communications. It's not all about science. There's no emotion in it. There's no feeling. If there's no poetry, then we're missing a lot of the joy and wisdom that science can bring to us when we just limit it to the facts. The last book I wrote, it'll probably be the last book I write. Listening to the Bees that I co-wrote with a poet really helped push me and my writing a little more in that poetic direction as well.

I remember the end of Listening to the Bees, I write about my research group and how we used to go out and do it. I try to bring alive how it was to go out in the field early in the morning, do research, and then I end by bringing back those moments of showing up at the A-period and lighting the smoker. Then the last line of the book is something like, we open the lid of the first hive, and it's still how I feel. There's still a lot of lids' hives to be opened in life. I guess coming back to your question about retirement, Kim, I think it may not be bees, but I still feel there's lots of lids to be opened, lots of things to learn, lots of people to talk to, and lots of joy to be had in life.

My wife, Laurie, from the day we met, we just walk and talk a lot. I'm a fast walker. I just like to walk. Laurie, she'll be walking and she'll suddenly stop, absolutely stop still and notice something. That's an image I like to keep in my mind about retirement, too. Just stopping and noticing what we're doing can bring you those joys and those moments to make retirement really, particularly a wonderful part of life.

Kim: Take some time and smell the bee flowers?

Mark: Yes. While there are still bees be to be seen, let's take your time and notice them.

Kim: There we go.

Jeff: Mark, we really appreciate you taking the opportunity to spend some time with us in reflection at the end of your teaching career at the university level, but I'm sure you'll be out there teaching as you find time and want. I look forward to it.

Mark: I may have some teaching left, but I still have a lot of learning to do, that's for sure.

[music]

Kim: Don't we all? It's been fun, Mark. I'm glad you could make it today.

Mark: It has been a true pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on the show.

Jeff: It was really fun having Mark finally on the podcast. We've gone after him for a couple of times and it just never worked out. I guess it was meant to be that we can help him celebrate his retirement with this podcast.

Kim: Yes, it was good to catch up with him again. Like he said, I spent about ten years working with him once a month for 100 and some articles, and every one of them was good and he was easy to work with. Then I kept up with him after he left with his books. I've managed to collect all of his books and get most of them read, so I stayed in touch. His concept of Bee Time, though, probably is my most cherished memory of him because he gets it exactly right when you take the top off a beehive and the world changes. It was good to have him on, and catch up on what he's been doing. Mark, happy retirement.

Jeff: Yes, let's celebrate that with you. That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcasts. Wherever you download and stream the show, your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on 'reviews' along the top of any web page. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping, for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at globalpatties.com. Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Betterbee for their longtime support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at betterbee.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of bee books, old, new, with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk.

Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener, for joining us on this show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions at leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:34:54] [END OF AUDIO]

 

Mark Winston Profile Photo

Mark Winston

Professor and Senior Fellow

Mark L. Winston is the recipient of the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction for his book Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive, and an Independent Publishers 2019 Gold Medal “IPPY” Award for his book Listening to the Bees. One of the world’s leading experts on bees and pollination, Dr. Winston is also an internationally recognized researcher, teacher and writer. He directed Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue for 12 years, where he founded the Semester in Dialogue, a program that creates leadership development opportunities equipping and empowering students to address community issues.

As a consultant and thought leader, Dr. Winston partners with universities, corporations, NGOs, governments and communities to advance communication skills, engage public audiences with controversial issues through dialogue, and implement experiential learning and community engagement in educational institutions. As an award-winning writer and editor, he works with students, scientists, other professionals and writers to develop compelling non-fiction, from proposals and newspaper opinion pieces to manuscripts and books.

He recently retired as a Professor and Senior Fellow in Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, a Professor of Biological Sciences, and was the SFU Library’s inaugural Nonfiction Writer in Residence (2020-2021).