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317. Save the Honeybees! | EARTH DAY BONUS EPISODE | HEATHER WOOD RETURNS! | Evergreen Urban Bee Sanctuary
19th April 2020 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:40:19

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From the Evergreen Urban Bee Sanctuary Heather Wood is here to share with us about natural beekeeping and why it is so important for everyone to have a hive on their property big or small. Donate to the Evergreen Urban Bee Sanctuary and help Heather continue her work on her Shunpipe donation page here.

Welcome to the GREEN Organic Garden Podcast it's Saturday • April 18, 2020 and I have an awesome guest back here to talk to us because she is just like you and me and all the green future growers out there so I know you are going to love every single golden seed that is going to come out of her mouth! 

So, I have so many new listeners since I was on the Melissa Norris show so they maybe haven't heard of you. 

Bonus Care Bellamy's informative Permaculture garden tour of her food forest and pollinator beds:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Returned to college a little later in life

taking a biodynamics class just different aspects of 


including beekeeping

watched a series of films, I said this is what I wanted to do. So I started a non-profit. Everything was in sync with other events.

We got to host Corwin Bell of Backyard Hive

He has done all sorts of research on Honeybee Genetics


natural style beehive that bees might prefer

honeybee genetics

non-profit to build natural beehives

awareness to catch honeybee swarms

straw hives

started to build his design which is the top bar hive

still have the sun hive which is the woven business

just about 150 top bar behaves now

so that’s pretty phenomenal for me, I didn't know anything about woodworking and I have developed a proficiency


Got my certificate in bee keeping

Where did you learn all this? I guess from Corwin?

local association before I

We hosted him to come and speak that drew all these people to the area and through my class and I became aware of this movement natural bee keeping that is geared toward local organic farming as opposed to giant mono-cropping and opposed the artificial insemination of honeybees

I just graduated in 2014 and I'm in my 6th year so I'm 

learned about genetics, I knew it was important but haven't done a 

  • ton of homework
  • still scratching the surface

The male honeybee is derived from an unfertilized egg!

You can imagine all of those worker bees you see, there are 10s of 1000s of bees in any colony

most are female!

  • foraging
  • doing work
  • queen of course laying eggs

The males represent a small percentage of the colony derived from unfertilized eggs so they only have mother s DNA!

So that puts them back need of diversity! That puts them back exponentially from having strong genes!

In nature the queen bee, is mating with 20 drones so she has tons of genetics there whereas now that we have been dependent on these mono crops there became a need for artificially inseminated queens because we go through bees that quickly now! They die at a faster rate for various reasons that we could talk about too!

They depend on artificially inseminated queens!

They don’t take sperm from 20 drones from nature right?  different drones because it's time efficient from a couple of drones that are invariably related to the queen.

So when you buy that package bees that queen from who’s inbred

They didn’t teach this in the entry level bee keeping class and I didn't learn this for a couple of years without doing a lot of my own research I really want to bring this aspect to the public!

Although there several layers to this

not that difficult


we cold be teaching this to our kids

designing our own curriculum for public

so now we’ve got these artificially inbred queens they send these out, we all buy these packages

all the big commercial beekeepers, and small beekeepers, there are tons of small beekeepers

because they're dying

buying from these

few different males



here’s one of the crux

The crux is that when a queen bee is laying eggs she chooses, or the colony chooses which kind of eggs is she gonna lay

do they need workers? or do they need drones?

they don't need drones, they need workers, so they tell her, however they decide we need workers.

She starts drawing sperm out of her sack, she fertilizes the egg with that sperm, which gets all mixed up, I don’t think she knows which sperm she’s drawing from those twenty choices, when she is artificially inseminated the sex ileles fo the sperm matches to her own DNA and turns the female worker bees into mutant males.

Mutant Males

Isn't gonna be the bonus at the end of this, the more flowers you can plant the better it will be. I will talk about how that is COVID related, because yesterday I went to the nursery to get potatoes and they said the nursery was closed because they couldn't sell bedding plants and my mom can't stay away from the nursery in NY where they are selling bedding plants.

Keep going this is fascinating, I don't know any of this!

See we are not learning this! they are essential

who’s in charge of the info were being taught, I think the states or the university and to change the curriculum in beekeeping is a lot of work and politics.

with this system of government, none-the-less

This is why I have gone around to all of the many of the libraries in king county

taught this information

created a poster board game to drive it home

here’s what happens

smell that mutant drone who would destroy everything and wreak havoc in the colony, they cull it out before it has chance to hatch


where there is an minbar

They call it shot brood

culled out those mutant drones

you could do a measurement say it's 50% shot brood, this hive isn't gonna live through the winter and probably get eaten by wasps in the fall

so that is just where it is

  • pesticide
  • over development

taking away hives

this is just a new element, so I decided ... every year I have to ask myself what does the community at large need to do this year


a couple of years ago I created this poster game

we hang up different queens

they get to velcro the drones

  • mating ritual
  • swatches of color that represent
  • what does it look like if they are all the same color?
  • that hive is not going to make it over the winter

written songs

honeybee songs

what do we need? National beekeepers what we strive for getting these genetically diverse colonies?

If they don't make it over the winter

how do we produce them?

came to need

I would call on people to become new beekeepers

I have collected funding to purchase all of the materials to 

build the hives

  • I have them all in my apartment
  • I'm putting the lids together
  • called on volunteers who cut the pieces out of the lumber
  • we ordered packages

There are 22 packages coming

22 new colonies

18 new beekeepers

80 mile radius

and we have agreed to be in this club where anyone can participate

the core is that we support helping with new queens

if there’s a swarm or we catch one out of one of these hives. We can share or give it away

Somebody told me, and I was like but we have to make money, that years ago people gave honey to each other

this year it dawned on me

we need to have beekeepers!

it’s not occurring to us as a group yet, I don't think, it's beginning to, obviously, that we need to give it away to each other

People are selling and giving away diverse queens that cost a lot of money

not about a sliding scale for poor people

culture and need to get diverse queens


every child

We need to help everybody who has an inkling of interest how to set a beehive on their property and LEAVE IT ALONE AND let the bees go!

You know I love this! Mike and I have struggled so hard to get bees to go, our hives are sitting here, our bees have either swarmed, or not made it to fall, IDK if it's because of pesticides. 

Here we are in quarantine, in Montana, I think our governor did a great job, but there are so many people who don't believe in it, but what if we doubled every gardener who is growing things or building beds for community gardens, IDK how you would do things social distancing wise.

I love the bees! So many people have said on my show, guests who have said, I didn't know how much my vegetable production would increase from planting flowers like the pollinator border around the Brooklyn grange. 

How do your make money? I know you have a non-profit? Do you do this for free? Do people pay?

so I have the non-profit, I have a fiscal sponsor, I'm going through Shunpike, which is sort of an art thing.

They support projects with art involved.

I'm also working with Christopher Gerber because I put beehives on rooftops and he's painting an entire rooftop with a big honeycomb on it and side of a building! 


I got a little job that I am just thrilled to do.

really funding this project this year

I think everything we do people see and it can become a new template for others to think about and envision and inspire people!

But this is what I do, it's important because it's my passion and I need to do it!


You know what's so interesting isCare Bellamy on the other side of the country in Florida you are both community minded beekeeping help your neighbors keep bees, share compost and grow flowers!

Bonus Care Bellamy's informative Permaculture garden tour of her food forest and pollinator beds:


So we’ve got farms taking these

bees going on rooftops

29th bees do come in

we need the bees

In nature, honeybee colonies do divide, that’s how they grow in number

I took the Cornell design but they are made with windows, but I took out the windows, so you are tempted to go into the hive, but I made them without windows because it's hard to insulate around window latches. We want to insulate the hives! 

These are swarm growing hives!

The goal is to get them to live through winter!

I made them a few inches shorter. So they will fill it up and swarm! That's really what we want the bees to multiply and divide!

When the hive is full of stores, they are confident they can let half the colony go and the old queen will go with them and they will hatch out the new queen, they will have fewer honeybees in there and feel confident they have stores of food

hive is a little smaller so we encourage them to do that, that’s one difference in this years batch of hives! It's exciting every year it changes

maybe in the winter or next spring we will find out.

So I think I missed something? Do people buy the hives? There was some pipe thing what did you call it? 


sponsor other groups who are doing projects around art. 

I decided to use them, or we did because 

I do artistic things too:

  • write songs about bees
  • poster games
  • murals with other artists

fiscal sponsor when it’s art related

people have the option of yearly joining membership fee if they wanted to



kind of a token commitment. It's a commitment right? This year I did fund all this myself, at my job excluding the volunteer work Scott Bishop who has spent hundreds of hours cutting lumber for me to spec!

this year the private donations really came from several memberships and then my job passion thing


Evergreen Urban Bee Sanctuary

on Facebook


  • if you are in this area
  • get on the list
  • we can figure out how you can have bees yourself

Evergreen Urban Bee Sanctuary website and Facebook

some times I get on there and do some work

  • I’m building beehives right now
  • I have to finish these lids by the 29th
  • spend the day delivering them in a van

I got them from a local company in Monroe 

Snohomish Bee Co

That's where I bought the packages, they're traveling to, to pick them up

I believe they are artificially inseminated queens, like Corwin told me years ago

bees are better then no bees

Get some bees even if they are packaged bees and work with it, so in order to make this program work, I am doing that and I am encouraging them to swarm.

Last year, we were sponsored to take a class at Western Washington University with Sue Cobey

how to grow new queens

not necessarily super natural, but it involves scooping an egg out of a cell and putting that in a vertical position so the honeybees will grow it out as a queen

There are different projects in the making to get new queens that are local growing biggest best thing but the biggest and best thing is to get an exponential amount of new beekeepers who want to have a hide in their yard! And be part of a network of people who are sharing and giving bees to each other.

The most natural way I can see available to me to do!

This is perfect, last week this woman I interviewed Joan Gregorson, I interviewed for Earth Week, had the Earth Summit, and her podcast is the GREEN TEAM ACADEMY and you are the perfect example of what she is talking about look at you connecting with 18 other people and maybe my listeners are thinking wow is there someone in our community who is doing this?

They say that's super important to have someone a mentor to help and look at your hives, because it's expensive to get started.

Do you do that treatment free, like Jacqueline Freeman...