Maryland beekeeping’s very lucky several decades with Dr. Barry Thompson in our community, it is difficult to imagine a way to educate, serve, support, and mentor which he has not embraced and at which he has not excelled.
For 65 years, both within our ranks (as an association leader, teacher, mentor, and former President of MSBA) and to the public via innumerable talks, media interviews, volunteer sessions at State and county fairs, Rotary Club, garden, church and school groups (in multiple languages), Dr. Thompson has missed no opportunity to share his unparalleled understanding and passion for beekeeping…to the great benefit of both people and bees.
As an EAS Master Beekeeper since 1996, he has richly fulfilled the program's mission to provide education and assistance to beginning beekeepers and serve in other capacities in the community as experts in beekeeping.
For example, many Maryland beekeepers might not be aware that in 2007, Dr. Thompson successfully petitioned the state to join with 20+ others in proclaiming National Pollinator Week. He has been a delegate to NAAPC since 2002 and has leveraged his distinguished medical career to give talks on bee stings and other topics for associations in many areas.
The Eastern Apicultural Society recognized this lifetime of study, service, and education this summer by presenting Dr. Thompson with the Charles and Evelyn Divelbiss Education Award. As EAS explains, "This award is presented to that person or couple who has—over a period of years—reached out to the non-beekeeping public to explain the value of honey bees in our lives.” In the words of the EAS Journal, he has been "a constant and enthusiastic ambassador for the honey bee” though high school, college and an exceptionally well-led life.
The Divelbiss Award was established in 1988, as recognition of the importance of public outreach in addition to EAS’ other major recognitions: The James I. Hambleton Memorial Award for research excellence in apiculture (which went to Cameron Jack of the University of Florida), and The Roger A. Morse Outstanding Teaching/Extension Service/Regulatory Award, which went to our own Karen Rennich! The Hambletonian Award celebrates our quest to better understand the miraculous honey bee, the Morse Award encourages us to build our skills and understanding as beekeepers, and the Divelbiss underscores the importance of creating a world where honey bees can be understood, accepted and thrive in their millennia-old partnership with human beings.
More personally speaking, I remember receiving a concerned phone call when I posted in our club’s online forum about receiving a large number of (richly deserved) stings. Dr. Thompson, it turns out, was always out there, paying attention, teaching, and caring for the community, with time to check in on individuals and make sure we got good advice in both tough and hopeful spots. We have been unbelievably enriched by his presence among us, and no award was more richly deserved.