Honey Bee Nucs ready 3/26/16


Urban Bee Company is offering a limited number of 5-frame nucleus colonies for sale. The bees are scheduled to be ready for pick up at our Capitol Hill location in Seattle on Saturday March 26.

UPDATE 3/25: Our nucs described below are SOLD OUT. If you want to be on the WAIT LIST, please inquire in case our inventory changes, and in case we have spring splits available in the coming weeks.

Order now by contacting us with your request. Price is $200 plus tax, payable in advance.



4035703_origThese bees started in the almond orchards in California, then will move to the fruit orchards in eastern Washington. They are a hybrid Carniolan/Italian breed that does well in the Pacific Northwest. Each nuc is assembled in Eastern Washington from the parent colonies the week of delivery and includes a field-bred queen.

Each colony comes in a waxed cardboard box and contains four wooden frames of bees and brood, and one more frame with bees and honey. The queen is guaranteed to be a laying queen in the colony or we will replace it.



4343315The best way to increase colonies is by raising your own nucs or by picking up swarms starting in April and May. Raising your own might not be possible, however, and relying on swarms is by nature unpredictable. Supply of whole colonies for sale can be limited and in any case, expensive.

Over the years we have tested bees from many sources and configurations, from packages to nucs from different suppliers. These are the best alternative we can find from the commercial operations, and we have used them successfully in our own operation. We pick them up ourselves; rather than a 14+ hour drive from California, they are only in transport a few hours before you can pick them up.

Simply put, these nucs are high-quality.



Last year the main nectar flow around Seattle–from blackberry–started the first week of May and was mostly wrapped up in a month.

We use these nucs in our own operation.

We use these nucs in our own operation.

Worker bees take 21 days to gestate, and two more weeks before they become foragers. If you want to put yourself in the position to collect surplus honey this year, you need to have enough bees to collect the main nectar flow, which means if your colonies are not building population in early April, you are looking at numerous issues before you have even started.

Using the nectar flow itself to build up a colony means you will have a lot of hungry bees right when the summer dearth hits. Droughts the past couple years have only exacerbated this problem of “phenological mismatch.” One solution will be to rely on sugar-water and pollen-substitute feeding, which creates its own problems of dietary diversity, and adds cost.

If you are looking to start a colony this year, these bees offer you the best chance of building population, catching the nectar flow, harvesting some honey, and offering you different overwintering options for next year.



Since 2009, Urban Bee Company has been raising healthy bees and growing resilient communities in the Pacific Northwest. An exclusive supplier of honey to Theo Chocolates, we are also partner to community farms at the Beacon Food Forest, Alleycat Acres, Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands, Marra Farm, and others.

We support habitat restoration projects at Sea-Tac airport, operate a bicycle-delivery honey CSA, and provide free classes to youth on bees (of all kinds) and the ecosystem. Our efforts aim to build “community through the hive.”

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

three beeks

Urban Bee Team: Travis Stoner, Dave Schiefelbein, and Bob Redmond

We’ve been quiet, but not idle. Whether it was wrapping up field surveys of wild bees, participating in the fall conferences, or building our web store (soon to launch), it was a busy end to last year. Then 2015 started incredibly fast out of the gate, with dandelions blooming in January and everything still weeks ahead of schedule even now (mid-May). We have news — lots of it — and will be sharing it soon. Look for welcomes to our new staff (teaser in the photo!), upgrades to the site, new stuff coming from our shop, news on the first honey from 2015, CSA sign-ups, news on clases, and other ways to get involved. Sign up on for our email newsletter (right hand column) to stay up to date. And thanks for cheering us along meanwhile!

— Your pals at Urban Bee Company

We’re hiring!


Urban Bee Company seeks a skilled, motivated beekeeper who wants to be part of one of the most environmentally-conscious beekeeping organizations in the region. See below; reply to drone -at- urbanbee -dot- com with any questions. Please note: our offices are in Seattle, Capitol Hill neighborhood.

POSTED:     October 15, 2014

CLOSES:     November 7, 2014

INQUIRE:     To Bob Redmond, Proprietor. drone -at- urbanbee -dot- com

INCLUDE:     Cover letter and resume


  • Manage woodenware inventory (Langstroth), including sourcing, building, repairing and cleaning hive parts, and keeping shop in order
  • Assist identifying apiary sites and building physical infrastructure
  • Manage selected beehives and apiaries, including occasional transport of hives
  • Assist with honey harvest including extracting, bottling, processing wax
  • Assist with delivery (may be via bicycle)
  • Assist with native bee surveys
  • Other duties as assigned and qualified: may include community partnerships, staffing events, teaching classes, and/or posting blogs


  • Beekeeping experience, 3 years minimum, with successful chemical-free approaches such as drone brood trapping and summer splitting.
  • Organized, self-managing, takes pride and ownership in work, able to work fast and mistake-free. Detail oriented and capable of recording and tracking myriad info with the hives.
  • Light carpentry
  • Customer relations
  • Food service experience a plus; cleanliness a necessity
  • Computer savvy, WordPress a plus
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  • Community engaged with knowledge and experience of local organizations and farms
  • Landscape, Plant I.D., Native Pollinator knowledge and other agricultural experience is desirable
  • Bee-friendly vehicle is a necessity; a truck is a plus


  • $15/hour DOE, straight time
  • Average of 15-20 hours/week, variable given seasonal peaks and lulls, also requires some schedule flexibility due to weather
  • Travel allowance negotiable, no health insurance or retirement benefits at this time

Support Farmers, Get Honey

We're in. Are you?

We’re in. Are you?

Seattle’s Urban Bee Company is offering an end-of-year special that will be a gift to grassroots farmers.

The backstory: Since 2010, Urban Bee Company has been Certified Naturally GrownThe alternative to organic, CNG certifies and promotes clean, sustainable food production without the high cost or industrial concessions of the National Organic Program.

CNG certifies 750 farms and apiaries in 47 states, including 21 in our own state of Washington. Almost all of them are small, community-driven endeavors like Urban Bee Company. Nationwide, 46% of CNG farms with produce certification sell their produce direct to customers via CSA’s. These are the true family farms many Americans envision when they think “farm.” CNG helps support and preserve these farms through certification and community building: connecting farmers with the people who want to support them, and vice versa.

And just last month, CNG started accepting non-farmers as members, which means you can join the effort.

Our offer: join Certified Naturally Grown at $30 or above before December 31, and get a 1 lb. jar of honey (value $15) for free, while supplies last! You’ll support an awesome organization and enjoy something sweet and local too. For this deal, we’ll bike-deliver (also for free!) anywhere in the city limits of Seattle. Out-of-city folks: we will send a jar of honey to you for the cost of shipping.

Join Certified Naturally Grown now and bring the clean-food movement back to its roots.

To accept, do two things:
a) go to CNG’s website and sign up

b) place your honey request to drone@urbanbee.com (We’ll cross reference with CNG before delivering).


  • In-Seattle customers: For bicycle delivery, you need to reside in the City of Seattle proper and your address must permit an accessible and secure drop-off point (no PO Boxes or locked buildings), for deliveries Monday — Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm.
  • Out-of-Seattle customers: you should know that we customarily do not ship honey, anytime, anywhere. So this is a big exception and chance for you to enjoy some Seattle bounty! (Remember, the honey is free but you’ll cover the cost of shipping.)
  • Offer is good until supplies run out. We have set aside 50 lbs for this promotion, which is a decent amount but also can go quickly. Will you be one of the lucky 50? Act now!
  • Delivery: within a week from your order. Thank you!

Airport slates 50 acres to Flight Path project

airport beeksTwo years ago, we approached Sea-Tac airport — the nation’s 15th busiest airport — about putting some beehives on their property. And doing an art exhibit inside the terminal. And turning some of the scrub land currently ridden with invasive weeds into wildflowers. And installing nesting habitat for native pollinators.

Why? If we raise local, disease-resistant and pesticide-free bees and distribute them to the local beekeepers, that will reduce our regional dependence on genetically-compromised bees from elsewhere. If we use airport property, we have much better control over the bees’ breeding ground, and can raise better bees.

If we inspire and educate people about pollinators and the need for locally-grown food, that will help the local food system grow. If we rehabilitate land right here in the city, that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and support our local economies. If we build habitat to support native pollinators, that will help them thrive and create ecological diversity.

The airport said: “yes!”

Flight Path - rectangle v3It took all of the two years to get to this point, and a staggering amount of work by us, our colleagues at The Common Acre (the non-profit that eventually took over sponsorship of the program) and the Port of Seattle (which runs Sea-Tac). We called the project “Flight Path: The Art+Science of Bees.” And this is just the bee-ginning.

Already we’ve installed 16 honey bee hives on the property and are beginning our queen-rearing operation. The project launch was covered by dozens of news outlets (including this one), including some comprehensive, educational articles in Crosscut Media and Yes! Magazine. A few weeks ago, in the wake of intensive publicity around our launch, the St. Louis airport announced–hey!–they’re going to put bees on their land too. And then the Port told the Flight Path team they want to dedicate 50 acres to pollinator habitat; we’re working with them to begin mulching and planting to start this fall, and install habitats for bumblebees, mason bees, and other native bees in the spring.

Site of the Flight Path art exhibit (for January 2014)

Site of the Flight Path art exhibit (for January 2014)

The Common Acre and airport curators identified an exhibit site and are gathering some of the region’s best artists, including Mandy Greer, David Lasky, Celeste Cooning, and many more.

Our goal is to make this project a model for urban agriculture everywhere: from corporate campuses to colleges and universities to cities in decay, even to vertically-farmed properties. As long as people are living in cities (and the trend only points to more and more urbanization), we need to find ways to produce food in those cities. And food needs pollinators.

“Flight Path” means not just the trajectory of planes or bees — it also means the trajectory of humans. It’s up to us to choose where we go.