When I started studying bees in 2008, my wife Amy thought it might be a passing obsession (along with World’s Fairs, the history of Denny’s restaurants, and diagramming sentences). Alas for Amy, our apartment started filling up with lots of bee boxes, wax-melting pots, and a whole assortment of tools and stainless steel contraptions. On warm days when the neighbor kids and I cranked the hand-powered extractor (something we still do), bees would knock at the screens, it smelled so good.
That was 10 years ago — we have since moved into a house (which alas is still overrun by beekeeping equipment). I managed to shed my other day jobs, and we have a six year-old apprentice beekeeper, I mean son, lending a hand now as well. Along the way the bee story has included work building habitats for bees in unlikely places (Sea-Tac airport, under the power lines in S. Seattle), and participating in local and national efforts to help the bees and our crippled food system.
“Community through the Hive” continues to be our mantra, which always comes back to listening to the bees. And they keep knocking at the screens, checking up on me and all of us. Thanks for being part of this journey of honey, gardens, bees, and community.
— Bob Redmond, Founder
MEET THE BEE TEAM!
AMY BARANSKI • Co-Founder
Amy Baranski currently works in the customer experience field in the software industry. She’s passionate about listening and driving insights and analytics into real solutions for customers. Amy is an avid instigator in cultural transformation–helping companies feel their customers’ experiences in order to do right by them. With a background in journalism and media relations telling the customer’s story is at the heart of her present work. Amy is currently focused on the small and medium-sized business segment–a personal passion for Amy as she participates in Urban Bee co and is connected with many small entrepreneurs in the Seattle area. Amy acts as a consultant with our our marketing and communication efforts, as well as general psychic wellness for the family. She is also a burgeoning beekeeper.
MICHELLE de la VEGA • Beekeeper, Operations Manager
Michelle de la Vega is a multidisciplinary social practice artist in Seattle. She is fascinated by the culture of the hive, and the experience of interacting with thousands of living creatures working in elegant concert. The mixture of focus, artistry and gumption that comprises the duties of bee keeping suit her well, in addition to the continual wonder of collaborating with wild creatures. Michelle maintains Urban Bee hives out in the field, and works in the shop extracting honey and building hive equipment for the bee keeping team. In addition to bee keeping and community building through art installations, Michelle is a teaching artist at Path With Art, providing classes for adults dealing with homelessness, trauma and recovery. She is also a past Artist Trust Fellow, a 2017 City Arts Magazine Artist of the Year awardee, and currently serves on the King County 4Culture Public Art Advisory Committee.
SARAH KAVAGE • Beekeeper, Production Assistant
Sarah Kavage is a Seattle-based artist and urban planner who became fascinated with bees and beekeeping while tending 20 hives as caretaker of a rural property on Maui, HI. This is her first season beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest. She says, “Beekeeping for me is a lesson in closely observing what’s going on around me, including things that we tend to tune out when we live in a city. I love the focused, in-the-moment mindset of being in the hives. It’s similar to making art where you can become so absorbed that time starts to dilate.”
Whether building a floating island on a barge in the Duwamish River, weaving fields of grass into giant installations, or distributing 20 tons of flour to the people of Chicago, Sarah’s creative work is a large scale response to place and landscape. She served as Co-Artistic Director of Duwamish Revealed in 2015, and was recently commissioned by Sound Transit to conduct community outreach and develop recommendations for public art along the planned Federal Way light rail extension.
BOB REDMOND • Founder
Bob found his way to beekeeping while living in a garden cottage surrounded by skyscrapers, as writer-in-residence for Seattle’s Hugo House in 2004-2005. Community work has been a hallmark for Bob: after intensive work with the chronic homeless and mentally ill, he edited Real Change newspaper, worked for many years in community radio, and founded the Seattle Poetry Festival. Former Program Director of Town Hall Seattle and curator for the Bumbershoot Festival, Bob shepherded Seattle’s bid to be recognized as a UNESCO City of Literature—a designation awarded in October 2017.
Founder of The Common Acre, a non-profit which restores food and farm culture, Bob was a co-PI for a USDA study on wild bees, and created the Flight Path project, a pollinator restoration project at Sea-Tac airport and Boeing’s Everett campus. A graduate of Georgetown University and a Rhodes Scholar finalist for Washington State, Bob is an avid cyclist and student of haiku. He lives in South Seattle with his wife and son.
JOHN WOODWORTH • Beekeeper
A beekeeper since 2007, and a past board member of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, John Woodworth became interested in bees after taking an introductory class with his daughter at a local beekeeping supply store. Soon one hive became two, then four, then eight, then sixteen. (He is committed to keeping the number under 24!) John calls his operation Back Alley Honey — a nod to the original first hive location and his mission to provide quality natural honey to the needy. In addition to his participation with Urban Bee Company, all of the honey produced at his apiary at the Goat Hill Giving Gardens is donated to the Pike Place Senior Center. Outside beekeeping, John is a principal at a small architectural practice located downtown, specializing in affordable housing and historic preservation.