Alumni Spotlight: Chris Conrad ’76

Tell us about your life today and what you’ve been up to since your MA days.

photo (4)Today I live in a house I bought with my wife in Santa Rosa two years ago.  She’s a middle school teacher and I have a bee extracting business.  I have two grown boys 19 and 22, and a border collie.  We love to go to Montana in the summer fishing and visiting friends, and I usually go in the fall to hunt mule deer (free range organic).  My work experiences since leaving MA have included tug boat captain, commercial diver in Hawaii, commercial long distance fisherman, real estate agent in SF for 16 years, cab driver in Marin for three years, handyman for two years, and now I’ve been running my bee removal business, Bee Conscious Removal, for the last five years, which provides safe, non-lethal removal of honeybees from homes and offices in the north bay and bee keeping mentoring.  It just shows that sometimes life has lots of twists and turns. I can honestly say that my MA education was helpful throughout.

Your business sounds very unique – Tell us about that!

bee1photo (5)Bee Conscious Removal is in the business of removing bees alive and safely from people’s walls. Bees are in trouble these days and so people have become more aware that saving them is important.  After I open up the wall where the bees are residing, I begin to dissect the hive.  Piece by piece, things go into various containers or locations.  The uncured honey goes into one bucket, to be fed back to the bees later.  The cured honey goes into another bucket to be crushed and strained and bottled later.  The rest of the comb has babies or brood in it usually and I rubber band this into frames.  These frames fit into the middle of my vacuum box.  After I have all the babies in the box, and half of the bees in there as well,  I shut off the vacuum, spray the old hive location with an organic but noxious smelling liquid that bees hate but doesn’t hurt them, and leave the vacuum box open till dark.  At dark, all the bees fly into the box and I come and seal it up with a little screen and a screw gun.

Bees are totally amazing creatures and yet they are also bugs like flies and mosquitoes.  Honey was the only real source of sugar until they invented how to get sugar out of a beet in 1865.  Sugar prices, which had been exorbitant, went through the floor.  Bees were used in warfare in the old days, and were sometimes thrown off castle walls (along with corpses, burning oil, and sewage) or flung from one ship to another in clay pots… one way to “clear the decks.” 

Any bee safety tips for us?

If you are ever stung, get the stinger out immediately as it has attached to it a little sac that venom keeps getting squeezed from even though the bee that did the stinging may be on the floor.  Using a wet copper penny taped on the sting, works better than anything else I’ve heard about.  But the bottom line is, it hurts.  I get stung regularly, and I don’t like it anymore now than I did when I was five.

What do you think about when you think about MA?    

chris conrad

I remember that for me the community I felt at MA from the teachers to the other students was key to my feeling like I had a place to belong.  Sports were a very enjoyable time for me in high school and thank god for baseball and soccer!  So many memories of games and coaches: Barney Stout and Charlie Little, gave so much to us as individuals and as a team. I loved fishing, worked on the salmon boats in the city on weekends and summer.  Bill McCluskey loved fishing also and I took him out a few times.  Even Ray Boring went out once with us.  The MA family I had was so important for me.  Susan Little, the drama teacher at the time invited me lovingly into her home and I stopped by frequently.  If I could tell students today one thing, I’d say, “relax and enjoy yourself.”  Make good choices, do good work, be involved, take advantage of the tremendous opportunity that the MA experience offers, AND…relax!  I see MA today, and all the bright and accomplished students there, and know that MA has grown into being a very special place for young people to develop and grow in, as it was also in a different way back in my day, but one has to be able to take advantage of it.

Interested in being in the spotlight for a future alumni newsletter?  Send me an email!

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