Beekeeping and Agriculture: The Perfect Match

By Jake Reisdorf, founder and CEO of Carmel Honey Company, winner of the 2017 Bayer Community Leadership Young Beekeeper Award

Top Takeaways from Bayer AgVocacy Forum 2018

CHC Jake Reisdorf

Beekeeping has been my passion since starting Carmel Honey Company when I was 10 years old. I’m fascinated by these tiny creatures and their incredible ability to pollinate so many of the fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and flowers that we enjoy every day. Beyond that, the social skills these fuzzy insects demonstrate as they sustain their colonies and look after one another are extraordinary. As an owner and operator of almost 100 hives, it’s been an incredible thing to witness firsthand.

Recently, I was invited to serve as a speaker at the Bayer AgVocacy Forum in Anaheim, California, as the first-ever Bayer Young Beekeeper Award winner and a representative of the next generation of agriculture. It was really exciting to be included in a group of impressive speakers from organizations like 4-H, Purdue University, The Coca-Cola Company and more. I also had the honor of participating on a panel of three “next generation” leaders who shared thought leadership on the evolution of agriculture. You can read more about my co-panelists and the entire event here.

Forum articleThough I’ve attended more than a few beekeeping conferences, and even traveled as far as Istanbul recently to meet beekeeping experts from around the world, this was my first time taking part in an event that looked at a beekeeper’s role in the overall agriculture industry.

Below are my top takeaways from attending the Bayer AgVocacy Forum, including why it’s important that apiarists (a fancy name for beekeepers), growers, scientists, researchers and brands all #AgVocate together for progress. Keep reading to learn more!

  1. Beekeepers and farmers have a lot more in common than you’d think.
    • Forum articleI normally attend conferences specifically about beekeeping, so it was really interesting to learn more about agriculture directly from farmers and their communities at this event. I was surprised to hear they face many of the same challenges I do when beekeeping, and I’m glad to know they share a desire to be good stewards of the land and animals that feed us. My favorite part was hearing from six growers from across the country who talked about the ways they reach out to their communities to educate people about agriculture’s importance, much like my program “Jake Gives Back,” is designed to educate people on best practices for honey bees and beekeeping.

  2. The agriculture industry includes more than just farmers.
    • There are so many different sectors of the industry that I wasn’t aware of before. For example, farm economists are looking at trends to see how consumers impact the demand for agriculture; drone ecologists are finding ways for farmers to keep watch over their fields with new technology; and non-governmental organizations are working with companies like Bayer to find solutions to the common goal of producing enough food to feed the growing planet. It was neat to consider how many more people are involved in farming than I originally realized (yes, beekeepers, too).
  3. It’s shocking to hear how much more food will be needed in the next several decades to feed a rapidly growing world population – and pollinators are part of the solution.
    • Learning about how many people are being fed by farmers today and how much more is needed in the future was eye-opening. Farmers are taking advantage of technology and science to solve this problem, Forum articlelike the drone science I mentioned and many other new innovations. As someone who is passionate about bees and beekeeping, I enjoyed the opportunity to take the stage and explain to the audience why pollinator health matters to our food supply and how young people can make a difference to help feed more people.

  4. We need to close the gap between consumer perceptions and the agriculture industry to successfully work together to meet the goal of feeding more people.
    • My experience at the conference confirmed for me that communication is important to agriculture and farming as a profession. To make people understand why it’s important, we have to find ways to spread the word effectively and help people uncover their personal connection to the food ecosystem.
  5. AgVocating helps bridge the gap between consumers and the agriculture industry.
    • We must close the gap between the farming industry reality and the average consumer perception of it. The link below is a video of me talking with Adrian Percy, Global Head of Research and Development at Bayer Crop Science, and the other next-generation panelists about how we AgVocate and how you can, too.

Overall, my favorite lesson learned was that everyone can make a difference. Whether you’re a member of the next gen of agriculture looking to embrace forward thinking and innovation like me, a seasoned professional with years of historical context or a newbie with general interest, there is place for all in the discussion.

I think the audience really enjoyed our “Next Generation” panel, which you can watch for yourself here. We left the forum feeling energized and ready to #AgVocate. I’ve returned to Carmel, and I’m back at work doing my part through my passion for beekeeping (when I’m not in school … I’m only 15, after all!).