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From Earth Day 2015! Heather Wood shares her passion and energy with listeners!
18th April 2020 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:38:26

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This is a replay from 4/21/15 my first year! And when I release this year's bonus Earth Day episode you will love her even more when you hear what she's up to now!

Meet the amazing Heather Wood saving the world one compost pile and bee hive at a time as she shares her journey to connect communities and show what living locally looks like. You’ll be truly touched by this mothers passion and commitment to the environment and world she lives in as she peddles compost from hub site to hub site, and bravely gathers wild swarms of bees to be relocated in a loving home with tenderness and excitement. Be ready to celebrate Earth Day after you hear this fantastic interview with one of the world’s young and inspiring modern day movers and shakers.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was looking forward to graduating college and I was researching alternative styles of composting all over the country. When I was young I saw a show about a learned about a community in Italy using mules for collecting garbage and decided that was what I wanted to do. At the same I time I was getting my apprenticeship in Beekeeping.

Got two business licenses

non-profit: Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary Sun Hive and Swarm.


Community Compost Collection that’s 100% bicycle powered!


Got her degree from the Evergreen State College, in the capital of Washington, in Olympia. Grew up in Tacoma, Washington. Studying physics and animation. Started studying biodynamics beekeeping and biodynamics farming which sort of takes organic a little further. Always wanted to be a beekeeper.

Was able to get my apprenticeship through the Washington State Beekeepers Association. I also got to sit in on a workshop with Corwin Bell of Colorado

More then Honey and Queen of the Sun documentaries that talk about the harm that the bees are in. Wanted to get involved and believed that she could be involved.


Decided to build beehives. Sun hives – wild swarming … a step away from conventional bee keeping … talking about stepping away from conventional bee keeping which is wild swarming. Conventional bee keeping means we prevent our bees from swarming.


Natural swarming means ½ of the colony will leave with the old queen so we can have genetic diversity. If we catch wild swarms and trade them we are encouraging biodiversity and local native populations that will withstand winter better and will be stronger.

Bees start to swarm in the spring… Earlier that you can get a swarm to keep in the box the better, because they will have time to build up storage for the winter.

A swarm is a cluster (in the shape of a V or a football) on a branch – about 7-10 feet off the ground. This is about ½ of the colony, right before the new queen is about to hatch, the bees start pestering the old queen to leave and she takes about ½ the colony with her to find a new home. They have a better chance of surviving if we provide them one.

When they are in the cluster they have gorged themselves to carry food to their new home, so they are not wanting to sting, plus the queen is emitting a pheromone so they are sort of in a “love zone.”

Can shake them into a box, or use a net, be prepared they are going to be warm and heavy.

Start fanning their wings that “we found a home!! we found a home!!” They will recognize a home. If it’s new they’ll think its dark and like a hollow of a log.

Build sort of file boxes that have lids to them. Put a rectangular window and a screen, tape flaps so bees don’t get crushed, then cut a baby door on the bottom. After put the bees in the box and I have the lid on and they can get in and out. As long as the queen is off the branch and in the box, they are gonna be happy. Bees all go home after dark, and you can shut the door and then you can transport.

If you have bees you can sit with them and learn their language and be able to recognize when they are ready to swarm.

In Scotland bee keepers will put nets out so that they swarm right into the net.

Paul Stamets, fungi man, famous for studying mushrooms is out in Olympic National Forest too.

Compost ties in with bees because the Mycelium feeds the bees and its anti-viral sap from the mycelial roots, the bees drink the sap and it is anti-viral for them. So my compost hubs site have mycelium cubes which turns into compost for people to put in their gardens but it also feed the bees.


So a compost hub site allows me to transport compost mostly to community gardens mostly in community places, sometimes neighbors and community members will open yard and allow me to build compost bins around town. So I donate the compost to the community garden. People can pay me to bring compost to them. Eventually I might sell it. They can come pick it up and take it to their garden or pay me to bring it on my bicycle to them.

I was researching the mules in Italy and found East side compost peddlers in Austin, TX … 100% bike powered composting so I found a guy in Portland OR, Tom’s cargo bikes ….


donated mountain bike, and Tom helped me put it together.


Found customers by talking to people, found clients on Facebook, at local community gardens, got a website up.

When people ask me why I want to do this, it’s because I want to show people what it looks like locally. We don’t need to have giant diesel trucks come by to grow food, so this is what it looks like, it’s this simple, it just takes doing. And eventually this could lead to job creation.

Also pick up leaves, grass clippings, anything that will turn into compost. I can provide a 5 gallon bucket, I come around and collect the compost, I spray it with vinegar water, provide a new paper bag with the food coop’s logo stamped on it, and then they just put it out once a week and I come pick it up.


Installing apiaries in town, going and catching bees,

Lots of volunteers…

In June going to ID, National Blue Grass Convention,

Honey bees …

Honey bees are what I work with right now and they are what I recognize. Not doing Bumble bees or mason bees etc. Mason bees are excellent pollinators but they don’t collect honey.

Want people to not be afraid of swarms, and that we call the appropriate person to come get them. Look up local bee association or Facebook group and someone will want that swarm no doubt, you might even be able to sell it to them!


Toward Saving the Honey Bee by Gunther Hawk

Honeybee Democracy

Keeping Bees with a Smile

Connect with Heather at the Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary or on Facebook and Twitter


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