a bee journey to flowers
The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams. ― Henry David Thoreau
It wasn't my intention to study honeybees until was given a book about a woman beekeeper. In it, she details her journey through the seasons during a transitional time in her life. At a crossroads of my own, I've never felt such a pull as I did with the idea of tending honey bees.
In 2006 the news of Colony Collapse Disorder was widely published. A renewed interest in beekeeping introduced me to some innovative, bee-centric beekeepers who were turning the idea of industrial-farmed bees on its head, while re-imagining a new way of being with bees.
Over the course of two summers, I completed the most in-depth and comprehensive training in biodynamic beekeeping in the country at Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in Floyd, Virginia. By far, this was the best investment I made to further my stewardship of honey bees and such an expansive learning experience, connecting with beekeepers from across the country, making life-long friends. I continue to learn the art of tending bees in various hive styles, and employ natural, foundation-less, treatment-free methods of beekeeping.
I began tending bees in a non-conventional way that continues to evolve. I do not use plastic foundation in my hives. Plastic foundation was created for ease of use and transport by the beekeeper, and to support quick extraction of honey. By allowing honeybees to build their own foundation out of wax (foundationless beekeeping), honeybees determine the size of the cell for laying eggs, which differs from cells created to store honey. I do not treat with miticides or pesticides often used to keep varroa mites at bay. This supports the honeybee's ability to adapt to the environment long after I'm gone, breeding resilience within the local honeybee population. To further aid their ability to control the mite population, I allow for swarming in the spring. With this break in the egg-laying cycle significantly reduces the mite population (and it's amazing to watch!). I catch and share most of the spring swarms with other local beekeepers. If the season allows, I will harvest only true surplus honey. This means I only take that which they don't need. Honeycomb is crushed and strained (or spun carefully), bottled and only sold locally.
My husband Chris and I spend much of our time in the garden, planting for bees and beneficial insects, finding and learning new flowers, and taking countless photographs. Our 16 years together has been an observation of all things botanical and bee. We're grounded in nature and celebrate the seasonal beauty and bounty of Northern California.
In 2017 I began selling flowers for one of Sonoma County's oldest and largest organic farms at Oakhill Farm. What a privilege to learn about the cut-flower trade alongside like-minded farmers and florists, surrounded by flowers. I continue to be inspired to grow flowers in a capacity that allows me to share, beyond what we grow for bees.
In 2018, I completed Floret Flower's workshop focused on small-scale, high-intensity flower production. I broke ground on a 2,000 square foot flower garden and have been keeping busy enlivening the soil and enjoying an abundance of pollinators and blooms ever since.
With bees at the heart, Pollen & Fox pays homage to all of our winged and feathered friends. A bounty of fresh flowers rewards our work and it is a pleasure to share this ever-evolving journey with you.