About Me

I never thought I would like bees, let alone capture swarms of honeybees and keep them in boxes in my yard! I was only ten years old when I was attacked by a hive of bees that had been harassed by other children one too many times. Fourteen stings and a ¼-mile running retreat left me with a decade-long fear and loathing of bees.

But in college I started to care about nature in a different way, an accepting way. Courses in philosophy and environmental education opened my mind to the idea that I don’t have to like something for it to have value. I took it as a personal challenge to learn about and love the animals that had frightened or repulsed me during my childhood; critters like spiders, sharks, snakes and even bees became fellow beings all trying to make it in a hostile world. I could relate to that.

During that era of exposure to new ideas and a broader understanding of the world around me, I had an intriguing dream about bees. The details of the dream are lost in time, but two main ideas stuck with me – that the bees had something to do with saving Earth, and that they were able to travel between dimensions. Cool. (If I ever find my notes on that dream, I’ll share the rest of it.)

In 2005 I discovered I’m allergic to sugar. Since my cravings for sweet things didn’t go away, I began substituting honey for sugar and making my own sweets. My father is also a beekeeper and had amassed a stockpile of honey; he became my primary supplier. When my husband and I bought our house, and finally had our own property, my dad gave me a hive of his bees to manage. That hive soon split into two, and by 2011 I’d built my apiary to ten hives.

After I started keeping bees, I discovered there is a heritage of beekeeping in my family. Grandpa had kept bees out at the family homestead in Arlington, WA. When I started keeping bees myself, my dad gave me Grandpa’s smoker and bee hood. They are not much to look at, but they are a connection to my past that I treasure; a heritage of self-reliance that I revere.

For thirteen years I worked for Washington State Parks. In 2009 their stewardship division hosted a native bees workshop. Up to that point I’d only been aware of three types of “bee” – honey bees, bumblebees, and yellow jackets. After the workshop I became mesmerized by the variety and diversity of native bees. Now, in addition to maintaining my apiary, I stand around in fields and forest edges, watching for native bees to photograph and identify. This blends well with my love for native plants – I get to spend time with two of my passions at the same time!

Somewhere between learning about the contribution native bees make to life on Earth to learning about the stamina and perseverance of queen bumblebees, I fell in love. I hope that BeeMentor.com will help you fall in love, too. Here’s to perseverance, self-reliance, and the sweetness of life on Earth!