Master Craftsman Beekeepers
The Master Craftsman certification represents the pinnacle of achievement in the Georgia Master Beekeeper program. Individuals achieving this rank have distinguished themselves as extraordinary practitioners of the craft of beekeeping, as well as credible spokespeople on the scientific approach to solving beekeeping problems and understanding bees as crop pollinators and members of natural ecosystems.
Master Craftsmen represent an idealized outcome of the continuing education model within the context of a public university. They are articulate, knowledgeable, and experienced in a variety of contexts. To achieve this level, in addition to holding all preceding ranks, individuals must be intimately involved in a university-supervised research project, sit for a rigorous oral exam with PhD-level examiners, and exhibit a broad range of practical and theoretical knowledge on all aspects of bees and beekeeping. With criteria this high, it's no wonder that their numbers are few!
Master Craftsman Beekeepers:
- Julia Mahood, Atlanta, GA
- Bill Owens, Monroe, GA
- Michael Steinkampf, Mountain Brook, AL
- Amy Weeks, West Monroe, LA
- Lance Wilson, Austin, TX
Cindy Hodges, Master Craftsman Beekeeper
Cindy Hodges is a native of Atlanta and a graduate of Emory University. She and her husband own and operate “Hodges Honey” apiaries with hives located in Dunwoody, Decatur, Dahlonega, and Auburn, Georgia. Cindy’s passion is raising healthy local colonies while exploring the art of suburban beekeeping. She manages the rooftop colonies at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
Cindy has many awards from honey contests at the local, state, and international levels. She is a senior Welsh Honey Judge. She is also a prize winning photographer and enjoys photographing bees at work. She has been interviewed on television, filmed for the PBS program Georgia Outdoors, quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and has published articles in Bee Craft Magazine (UK) and Bee Culture Magazine (USA). Cindy is past president and an honorary lifetime member of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. While president, she developed and implemented the Junior Beekeeper program. She is a past board member of the Georgia Beekeepers Association. In 2012 she received the Georgia Beekeeper of the Year award.
In 2017 Cindy completed and tested for the University of Georgia Master Craftsman exam. As part of the requirements, she designed and implemented a research project: Hodges et al. Textured Hive Interiors Increase Honey Bee Propolis Hoarding Behavior. “ms in prep"
Cindy is a frequent speaker at beekeeping clubs, garden clubs, and other organizations and events. She is pleased to sell local raw honey, as well as nucleus colonies of bees when available.
Dunwoody, GA 30338-4508
Julia Mahood, Master Craftsman Beekeeper
Growing up in a house full of girls who were all terrified of bugs, Julia never imagined she would become a beekeeper. Things that flew and stung were to be completely avoided. But when she became a mother, Julia's two sons introduced her to the fascinating and wonderful world of insects. In 2004, inspired by the book, The Secret Life of Bees, she took a weekend course at the Campbell Folk School. Her yard, and her passion for bees, has been buzzing ever since. Her oldest son, Noah Macey, is also a Master Beekeeper.
Julia has found that the educational opportunities within the beekeeping community, both as a student and as a teacher, have greatly increased her enjoyment and continued fascination with the amazing honey bee. An active member of the Metro Atlanta Beekeeper’s Association, Julia has served as President, mentors new beekeepers, and facilitates educational opportunities for members in the community. She is also very active in the Georgia Beekeepers Association, which named her the 2018 Beekeeper of the Year.
Julia started the beekeeping program at Lee Arrendale State Prison and through the GBA assists in starting and supporting prison beekeeping programs in the state. She has won many awards for her honey and hive products. When she’s not sweating in a bee suit, Julia is graphic artist and her entry won the design contest for the new Georgia Save the Honey Bee license plate.
Julia performs swarm retrievals and leads beekeeping classes, classroom programs, and presentations to non‐beekeeping groups of children or adults. She is also available to speak to beekeeping clubs for a fee.
- Natural Beekeeping
- The Secret Life of Drones
- Splits, Nucs, and Swarm Control
- Top Bar Beekeeping
- Hive Products- lotion bars and lip balms
- Beekeeping Tips and Tricks
- Lazy Beekeeping
- How To Give Engaging Bee Talks to Non‐beekeeping Groups
- Making Creamed Honey
- Beekeeping Behind Bars- Prison Beekeeping
Bill Owens, Master Craftsman Beekeeper
Bill Owens, native of Georgia, grew up around honey bees as a child. He loved nature and the outdoors. After a serving in the U.S. Navy, Bill settled in Monroe, Georgia and he started keeping bees of his own. Bill also joined the Monroe City Fire Department where he quickly moved up in the ranks. In 2000, Bill converted his small single hive hobby into a successful sideline business with over 100 colonies called Owens Apiaries. In addition to honey production, Bill owns and operates Georgia Bee Removal, a subsidiary of Owens Apiaries. Georgia Bee Removal is a company that removes honey bee colony infestations, as well as other insects such as yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets, from homes and businesses around the state. From 2004 to 2006, Bill assisted with field research at the University of Georgia honey bee lab.
Bill earned his AAS in Fire Science Technology at Lanier Technical College in 2005 and BS in Fire Science Management from American Military University in 2008. At the same time, Bill was also studying bees. After five years of study in 2006 through the University of Georgia and Young Harris College, Bill earned the certification and title Master Craftsman Beekeeper. Bill is the first beekeeper in Georgia to earn the highest certification in this trade. It is a title which he alone still holds as of today. Bill’s work is published in multiple news and magazine articles. He has honey bee research published in Apidologie, the leading journal devoted to bee science. In 2011, he co-wrote and published his first book on honey bee removals Bee Removal: A step by step guide. Bill does consulting work and speaking engagements on honey bees, bee safety, and the bee industry in general. He is a member of the Georgia Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) Committee and one of the leading developers/presenters of the training for public safety personnel in the state for the response of AHB stinging incidents. In his spare time, Bill teaches core curriculum of fire science at Georgia Piedmont Technical College (Formally Dekalb Tech) and is an continuing education instructor for North Georgia Technical College in their newly developed Basic Beekeeping program. He also designs websites and is the web master of the Georgia Beekeepers Association.
Bill has served in many leadership roles within the honey bee industry to include Chairman of the Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Association, President of the Georgia Beekeepers Association, and Vice President of the Eastern Apicultural Society. Bill earned the Walton County Public Servant of the year in 2006 and City of Monroe Firefighter of the Year in 2003. His other roles at Monroe City Fire Department have included City Fire Inspector, Chief of Training, and Public Information Officer as well as the Chairman of the Walton County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
Bill is an entrepreneur, author, instructor, firefighter and beekeeper who enjoys the simple life with his wife Lisa, their dogs and acres of bees. Bill and Lisa hope to build a small house on their 10 acres of land in Morgan County, where they can have their own homestead.
- Bee Removal
- Bee Classes
Michael Steinkampf, Master Craftsman Beekeeper
Michael Steinkampf is a reproductive endocrinologist who directs Alabama Fertility Specialists, a private fertility clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. He has degrees in Chemistry from LSU and Princeton University. Michael came late to the world of beekeeping, having begun at the age of 55, but he has made up for lost time by engaging in a variety of beekeeping activities. Starting with one hive in 2009, he now has about 30 hives sited throughout north central Alabama, including a research apiary in Wilsonville, Alabama, which he operates with his mentor and colleague John Hurst.
Michael has written beekeeping articles for his local newspaper, for Bee Culture magazine, and for an educational Internet blog (www.sandhurstbees.com) that documents his beekeeping adventures. He has given invited presentations at the Auburn University Beekeeping Symposium on medical aspects of beekeeping, and he recently mentored a Boy Scout on a beekeeping-related Eagle Scout Service Project.
Two years ago, Michael began supplying members of his local beekeepers club with swarm lure that he formulated himself; the number of repeat customers attest to its effectiveness. Since 2010, he has served as a volunteer observer for the NASA HoneyBeeNet scale hive network (his site info and data can be accessed at http://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sites/ScaleHiveSite.php?SiteID=AL002).
Michael considers one of his most important achievements to be introducing his beekeeping mentor to the concept of integrated pest management (IPM), and suggesting that they attend the Young Harris College/UGA Beekeeping Institute. In 2011, Michael won Best of Show at the YHC/UGA Honey Show for his innovative observation hive, which he subsequently established at the Birmingham Zoo. He recently became the first Georgia Master Beekeeper to be awarded a research grant from the National Honey Board; his project aims to study changes in hive design that could improve honey bee health. Michael’s ultimate goal is to use his knowledge of reproductive biology and chemistry to become a better beekeeper.
Phone: (205) 874-0000
3308 Sandhurst Road
Mountain Brook, AL 35223
Amy Weeks, Master Craftsman Beekeeper
In 2002 Amy planted a small fruit orchard on my property. Naturally she wanted some bees to pollinate the trees, so she cleaned up some empty beehive equipment that had been in storage in her in-laws barn and the next spring she began catching her first swarms. She initially had little practical knowledge about bees, but she found and latched onto an excellent mentor in her area, learning all she could. It turns out Amy had a knack for the bees and her knowledge and experience with these insects has expounded. The more she learned about bees, the more she realized she did not know. Amy began to search for a Master Beekeeper program and was delighted to find Young Harris Beekeeping Institute. Her love for the Appalachian Mountains biased her a little in her decision to select the Young Harris program, but she has never regretted it. Amy has also taken advantage of learning all she can at the USDA Bee Lab in Baton Rouge.
Amy started her beekeeping journey with two caught swarms, and now manages about 50 hives. In 2006 she began assisting a commercial beekeeping family with queen rearing and have now expanded to raising queens in her own apiary, focusing particularly on selecting for hygienic behavior, honey production, and gentleness. In the spring of each year she has mated queens available from VSH and Minnesota hygienic stock.
Keeping bees has become a family adventure. She home schools and her three sons all have their own hives (at their request) from which they sell their own honey and bees. They also are an invaluable help when Amy goes to speak at children’s groups and schools. Keeping bees has been an excellent way to teach first hand the importance of bees in our ecosystem, science (biology and microbiology), stewardship, and entrepreneurship. Many groups have made the field trip to Amy's apiary to learn more about these wonderful creatures and she has been invited to speak by many different organizations hungering to know more about bees.
Amy has served as the President of Hill Country Beekeepers, served on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Beekeepers Association, and as a member of American Apitherapy Society and Monroe’s Herb Society.
Amy sells queens, nucs, raw local honey, and beeswax. She mentors new beekeepers each year and is available for speaking engagements. She enjoys speaking on all beekeeping subjects, but has the most experience in queen rearing, beginning beekeeping basics, Africanized honey bees, and Apitherapy.
West Monroe, LA 71291
Lance Wilson, Master Craftsman Beekeeper
As a hobbyist, I manage hives in Llano and Travis counties in Central Texas. I like to promote natural beekeeping and avoid synthetic chemicals and antibiotics. I advocate Integrated Pest Management, including organic biopesticides. a past president of the Austin Area Beekeepers Association. Past president of the Austin Area Beekeepers Association, I am also a member of the Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup, the Texas Beekeepers Association, the America Beekeeping Federation and the Williamson County Area Beekeepers Association. I regularly attend the annual Texas and North American Beekeeping Conferences, as well as provide bimonthly presentations to the Round Rock Beekeeping School and advanced instruction for their master class. And finally, I've served on the Texas Master Beekeeping Program Board and am a past Area Director for the Texas Beekeepers Association.
My mission is to educate and promote awareness of this fascinating subject whenever possible. I have presented lectures on honey bee biology, management and diseases to the Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup, the Texas Beekeepers Association and the Central Texas Beekeepers Association. The Round Rock Fire Department, Tow Fire Department and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in both Williamson and Travis Counties list me as an expert contact for bee-related issues. In addition, I am currently developing a curriculum so that a beekeeping certification program for Texas area beekeepers might be offered.
I have presented lectures on honey bee biology, management, behavior, nutrition, Africanized honey bees and Varroa and brood disease management to the Texas Beekeepers Association’s annual convention and clinic, annually at the North American Beekeeping Conference, the Georgia Beekeeping Institute and at local beekeeping clubs in Texas. Upon request, I am often available to lecture on the following topics:
- Honey bee biology and behavior
- Natural beekeeping management
- Urban beekeeping
- Pests and pathogens
- Varroa mite management and IPM
- Africanized honey bees
Austin, TX 78759