Go Ride a Bike!

Two fabulous bicycle events going on this weekend and next, both of which we are proud to be sponsoring:


40 miles to freedomStreets & Beets: benefit ride for Alleycat Acres, Seattle’s urban farm collective — also a location for our beehives! The farmers and their supporters are trading their pitchforks for bicycles and raising money to sustain the all-volunteer effort. Local matters y’all! Ride starts at 9:30 am on Saturday May 4th… there’s still time to sign up or donate: find out the latest news on Alleycat’s Facebook page.


pollinator rideAn extended Critical Mass, the M.O.B. Roll gang rolls from Bellingham to Olympia in a cavalcade of events. On 5/11 in Seattle is The Pollinator, a bike race from Myrtle Edwards Park to Nora’s Woods in Leschi. Co-produced by Bombus Bikes (our favorite bicycle company), the race has several pollinator-themed happenings, cool prizes and a BBQ afterparty. Gather at Myrtle Edwards at 4 pm, race starts at 5.

Book Clubbing! And you?

bee books!We are pleased to announce the inauguration of our Urban Bee Book Club with this very post. Here’s how it works:

1) You nominate books; we pick one.

2) We all read it.

3) After a couple months, conversation ensues: post your review online, make comments, answer other comments. For you Seattle folks we will also go to a local coffeehouse and chew the fat (I guess it should be honey eh?).

4) Do it again!

Any avid readers out there? What book is on your list? Think broad… we are interested in books on beekeeping, of course, but also on the history of bees, alternative pollinators, urban gardening, urban farming, the food system, the history of Agriculture. On our short list are:

What about you? What book should kick off the UBBC?

Our Seed Mix Is In!

Seed MixOur Urban Pollinator Conservation Seed Mix is in!

Recommended by the Xerces Society for Pollinator Conservation, this mix is specially designed to provide foraging resources for a diversity of pollinators. It includes sixteen wildflower species that provide sources of nectar and pollen thoughout the growing season, and is appropriate for planting in gardens, vacant lots, industrial sites, and other urban areas.

The Seed Mix includes: Plains Coreopsis, Mexican Hat, Purple Coneflower, Blanketflower, Lance Leaf Coreopsis, Lacy Phacelia, California Poppy, Crimson Clover, Wild Bergamot, Poached Eggplant, Cosmos, Partridge Pea, Perennial Lupine, Annual Lupine, Butterfly Milkweed, and Dwarf Sunflower.

We’re packing it in sizes for parking strips (250 square feet) and yards (2500 square feet) this week! Watch this space for updates on pricing and delivery, or email us for information.

Busy Bee

What, it’s already September? Yes… and gorgeous here in Seattle as summer wanes, with a hint of fall in the crisp morning air. We’ve been busy with a new baybee and the day job, plus bicycle-delivering to our CSA subscribers, prepping hives for fall and winter, and extracting honey.

Our way of extracting dates from the 1860s… with movable frames (via Langstroth, 1851), and a centrifugal extractor (Francesco De Hruschka, 1865). We uncap the frames (see pix), then put them in a big steel extractor which flings the honey out. Then we bottle it—that’s it. Wow, techniques that are 150 years old!

That’s all well and good, but there are older and simpler ways… check out this Kattunayakan boy from Southern India, with his giant honeycomb… it will be crushed and strained of honey. (We came to this link via the excellent Ethnobeeology page.)

So when will our honey be available? Soon, very soon. We are bottling now and will have news on CSA enrollment, the new salve, and more. Stay tuned, and enjoy the sunshine!


City of Roses, City of Bees

A couple readers have inquired about beekeeping resources in Portland, Oregon. And despite Seattle Magazine’s Portlandia vs. Seattle throwdown (it even featured our own—and very real—bicycle honey delivery vs. Portlandia’s fictional bicycle moving company), we figured there have to be some urban bee happenings in PDX.

Turns out there are resources–lots of them!

  • First, starting at the state level, try the Oregon State Beekeepers Association. Their website features info on regional branches, month-by-month reminders for beekeepers, resources for those looking for pollination, swarm collection, and more.
  • On the city level, beekeepers can connect with the Portland Metro Beekeepers Association. Monthly meetings happen in Oregon City, about 15 miles south of downtown. PMBA also has a Facebook group you can join.
  • The Xerces Society (named for an extinct butterfly) is a forty-year old non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of invertebrates. Among many outstanding programs, they recently launched the “Bring Back the Pollinators” campaign–which promotes not only honeybees but all kinds of pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants. Having attended workshops and read books by the Xerces Society, we can’t say enough about the high quality of their work and their national impact. If you live in Portland, it bee-hooves you to find something Xerces is doing locally and take advantage of it.
  • Livingscape is an interesting-looking garden/kitchen/outdoor store on the edge of North Portland by Emmanuel Hospital. They sell bee clothing, hive components and tools, and offer classes and gardener resources.
  • Bee Thinking is a top-bar specialist store and company, the brainchild of Matthew and Jill Reed. If you keep bees for more than a season or two, even if you start with the traditional Langstroth hive, you will inevitably consider the affordable and versatile top-bar hive. Portland joins other beekeepers like Sam Comfort and his Anarchy Apiaries in New York, or Ashland, Oregon’s own Kat Nesbit (Bliss Honeybees)—advocates of top-bar, natural beekeeping. More on that in a later post.
  • Ruhl Bee Supply is a complete bee supply store in Gladstone (you can stop there on your way to the PMBA meetings in Oregon City), just south of Portland. A full-service store, they offer classes and some good online resources including information about Urban Beekeeping and hive management.
  • While we’re talking about stores, Glory Bee Foods in Eugene should be mentioned. They have a superb online and retail store, with very helpful staff, speedy delivery, and good inventory.
  • Bee Local hosts hives and collects honey by neighborhood (a lot like Urban Bee Company here in Seattle). Run by Damian Magista, Bee Local has absolutely gorgeous packaging and website (including a beautiful video), and offers honey from four Portland neighborhoods, in addition to offering classes too.
  • Portland filmmaker Taggart Siegel produced and directed Queen of the Sun, which played the Seattle International Film Festival in 2010, preceding a theatrical release that fall. In Portland, Queen of the Sun’s release was the occasion of the Honey Bee Week, which featured a costume contest, tour of bee hives, and many other festivities. The movie was beautiful to watch, informative and inspiring, and the filmmaker offers an educational curriculum and additional resources online.
  • Another name that keeps popping up is Glen Andresen, beekeeping veteran of 30 years. He teaches workshops and lessons on beekeeping, particularly treatment-free, natural beekeeping. Isn’t it interesting (though not particularly surprising) how people keeping bees for a long time advocate the “less is more” approach? Glen sounds like something of a local treasure.
  • Portland, being Portland, is full of additional happenings and resources. Just this February, for instance, Shining Star Waldorf School hosted a “Festival of the Bees” with all kinds of demonstrations of bees and hive products, as well as opportunities to learn more about Waldorf (an educational practice founded by Rudolf Steiner, who wrote and lectured on bees in the 1920s).

Even though I live in Seattle, my wife is from Portland, and we visit family and friends in the area regularly. An uncle-in-law keeps bees in Oregon City, and a cousin-in-law is thinking about starting something up in Forest Grove. We look forward to checking out some of Portland’s finest beekeeping resources in person.

If you’re there now, count yourself lucky and make your own bee story!