I am a master beekeeper living in western Washington. I first became interested in bees as a child in Pennsylvania where, every spring, my grandfather took me on long woodland hikes along Fishing Creek in Columbia County to visit the “bee trees.” These gnarly behemoths were abuzz with activity and vibrated with the sound of industry. The bees seemed to “arrive” as soon as the weather warmed, and—with no human intervention whatsoever—set up housekeeping and kept the local farmers in apples, cherries, cucumbers, and pumpkins.
Awed by the surreal beauty of Pennsylvania’s farmland, I studied agriculture and graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor of science degree in Agronomic Crop Science. The green revolution was in full swing. The word “organic” was a term seldom used—and only with belly-jiggling derision. Modern pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers, vast irrigation projects, and high-yield grains were going to feed the world. In those days I could recite by rote the recommended application rates of DDT or chlordane for nearly every crop you could imagine.
Now, years later, many of the beech/maple forests have been replaced with invasive weeds. The DDT and chlordane are gone too, replaced with a panoply of the ever-more-deadly. Worst, the wild hives have disappeared and the managed bees are barely surviving. Combs of buckwheat honey in little basswood section boxes are scarcer than wooden wheelbarrows and washers with wringers.
I, too, have changed since that time. In the spring of 2010 I graduated with a master of environmental studies degree from the Evergreen State College. While in school, I spent my time researching the effects of contaminated pollen on larval bee development, and studying the possibility of using non-Apis bees to supplement or replace the honey bee in modern agriculture. There are many more questions than answers surrounding these topics. Through my blog I hope to find some answers to pollinator problems and share what I learn in the process.
In addition to writing and maintaining Honey Bee Suite, I am director of the Native Bee Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to education about wild pollinators. I also write articles for various bee publications including American Bee Journal, Bee Craft (the Journal of the British Beekeepers Association), 2 Million Blossoms, Bee Culture, IBRA’s Bee World, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, The Serbian Beekeeper, The New Zealand Beekeeper, and An Beachaire (The Irish Beekeeper). In addition, I frequently speak to groups about bees and other pollinators.
In my free time, I enjoy hiking, photography, baking, canning, and writing mystery fiction. Currently, I have too many bees, too many chickens, two cats, one dog, and one husband.
Thank you for visiting my website.