Meet Our Board Members

The Holland Area Beekeepers Association began in the 1950's as an opportunity for local beekeepers to meet and share ideas.  We strive to carry on their endeavor as we continue to meet and share resources to educate and encourage all those who love the honeybee.

Meet Our Board Members

Ron Rhoades, President/Treasurer


Ron started beekeeping as a teenager and was up to eleven hives by graduation. He passed those along to another beekeeper when he attended college to earn a BS in Business Administration and a MA in Management. Ron served in the Army as an Infantry Officer and Aviator with overseas tours in Vietnam and Europe. Since retiring, Ron has gotten back into beekeeping.

Rich Schaffer, Vice President


My name is Rich Schaffer and I’ve lived in west Michigan since 2000. I have been married to Richele since 1982 and have two daughters. 

I became interested in beekeeping in 2009 when I watched my beekeeping mentor install a package of bees. I started with 1 hive at that time and expanded since then. After experimenting with raising queen bees from queen cells, I have expanded to raising queens. Even though I am still learning, I hope to improve my queen raising skills each year. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of beekeeping and always look forward to showing others the inside of my hives. 

I joined the Holland Area Beekeeping Association my first year in beekeeping. This club has allowed me to make new friends as well as network with other beekeepers. Being a member of the board is my way of giving back to this club as well as help promote beekeeping to community.

Erin Von Tom, Secretary

I started my journey into beekeeping in 2013/14 as an advocate for backyard beekeepers, working with the City of Grand Haven to establish a beekeeping ordinance. My husband, Phil, and I obtained the first permit to install two hives in the city in 2015. My beekeeping is driven by my passion for gardening, specifically growing my own fruits and vegetables. Prior to keeping bees, I harvested an average amount of produce from my backyard garden. Since installing the hives, garden production has increased significantly.

Over the last three years I have developed an interest in learning about the biology, genetics and most recently the nutritional needs of bees. I try to plant as many pollen and nectar rich plants in my yard as space allows. I also enjoy photographing bees as they collect pollen, nectar and water from my 'backyard buffet'.

What began with two hives in our backyard has expanded to four apiary sites throughout West Michigan, including Longstroth (wood and foam) hives; a Longstroth horizontal hive, and most recently the Layens horizontal hive with extra deep frames.

I work full time for the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and serve as the Chair of the Grand Haven Planning Commission. I have extensive experience with grant writing and working with non-profit agencies. I look forward to volunteering my time and talents with HABA.

Dick Winkel, Member at Large


Richard “Dick” Winkel began beekeeping in the early 1990’s. Varroa mite made beekeeping so difficult that within a few years, beekeeping was abandoned. A later request for chestnut honey rekindled Dick’s beekeeping efforts. The quest for chestnut honey continues to this day and HABA restored hope for successful beekeeping.  Dick worked his way through college as a crop-dusting pilot, beginning his interest and career in aeronautical engineering. He possesses a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering (U of M) with added course work in mathematics at Washington University/St Louis, and business at University of Houston.  Since 1990 Dick has been planting a chestnut orchard at his Coopersville farm, and for the last ten years, hosting Grand Valley State University classes at the farm during harvest. Of special interest has been the opportunity to GVSU’S Sustainable Agriculture Project. A small apiary is located at the Winkel Chestnut Farm. Dick’s goal is to manage the bees to yield honey with the highest possible chestnut content. The “Wildflower and Chestnut” honey will take a place of honor in our diversified, yet chestnut related, farm market. Beyond the farm and the farm market, Dick’s goal is to see others join the community of successful beekeepers. 

Dale Dykema, Member at Large


I am a small beekeeper of some 10 years experience during most of which I was merely a "bee owner" rather than a real “beekeeper”. My wife Cathy and I attended two of this year’s workshops and found them pivotal in our beekeeping lives. For the first time we did splits and struggled with the frustrating problem of a hive with laying workers.  While I do not have much to offer, I would be willing to be an “at-large” member of the board. I have served on the boards of Priority Health HMO, The Center for Women in Transition, PET MI West Michigan and PET International. The last two have recently been renamed to Mobility Worldwide MI West Michigan and Mobility Worldwide International, both of which are current board positions. The work done in the past couple of years is a great extension of the foundational work of the past decades of work by HABA. WAY TO GO! 


Barry Miller, Member at Large


An active member of the club, Barry has been involved throughout the past couple years with hospitality and as a volunteer at Bee School.  I started keeping bees in 2013 with one top-bar hive. I started because I like honey, and it looked easy. I now have 3 top- bar hives that I hope will survive winter, so far I have not had any of my hives survive winter. Just think about how much honey I could have bought with the cost of those bees.