Whole Story

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Guerilla Beekeepers

Honey bees are often the unsung hero of the food world. Through pollination they are responsible for a third of the food we eat. Yet bee colonies in the US are declining at rapid rates – 30% a year!

This month, through our Share the Buzz program, we’ve been providing information and tips on how you can help the helpful honey bee. Speaking of bee-ing helpful, here’s a group of folks who could be considered bee superheroes; and their company just happens to be our most recent Local Producer Loan Program recipient, Guerilla Beekeepers! Located in the quiet hills of Silverado Canyon, California, Guerilla Beekeepers have made it their life’s work to rescue and relocate honey bee colonies and swarms.

Founder Bill Walter has been a honeybee lover since he was eight years old. His passion for bees grew into a business when, in 2008, he took on the challenge of rescuing a swarm of bees that had invaded his home. Word of his rescue skills got out, his reputation spread and before he knew it, he was a busy bee. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!) Guerilla Beekeepers was born.

He skillfully rescues honey bees from residential and commercial properties, gently removes them and relocates them to apiaries in Orange and San Diego counties. Their hives are sustainably tended, without the use of pesticides, miticides, antibiotics and other conventional beekeeping treatments. In addition to bee rescue and relocation, Guerilla Beekeepers harvests the honey and then makes body care products from the beeswax. These products are available for purchase at select Whole Foods Market® stores in the San Diego area. Bill is also passionate about educating the public on the importance of the honey bee and beekeeping using treatment-free methods.

Bill and Guerilla Beekeepers are using the proceeds of their Local Producer loan to establish new treatment-free apiaries in San Diego, as well as to expand their honey and body-care processing facility.

Finding a honey bee swarm in your yard can be shocking and scary! But swarming is how honey bee colonies reproduce and is a natural and critical part of their process. When a group of bees have outgrown their space, about half of them will leave with the reigning queen to find a new home. While in transit, this group of bees is called a swarm and will often cluster in trees or bushes.

If you live in Southern California, rather than calling an exterminator, let Guerilla Beekeepers relocate the swarm. If you live in another part of the country, please consider finding a beekeeper in your area to rescue your swarm.

What are you doing to help honey bees? Share in the comments.

Updated 9/22/15.

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Louise Allred says …

I love love love cherries!!! And if I win I have lots of family to share with!

Dee says …

I have kept a backyard hive over the past 10 years moving them into past 3 states we've lived in, including here in Austin. We just pulled 25# of beautiful spring honey off our hive. We've introduced several people to the satisfaction of owning your own hive over the years and will continue to offer support to other up and coming beekeepers.

lee.kane says …

Just one more fact to note about honey bees and swarming: when bees have swarmed, they are least likely to be aggressive or to sting. They have no honeycomb, brood, or hive to protect as they're actively in search of a new hive. Therefore, they are relatively docile during this natural part of their reproductive cycle, and helping them to find a new home, rather than having them exterminated, is far more humane and appropriate.

Christy Hemenway says …

Another good source to help you locate a beekeeper near you is this list - called Who's Who in North American Beekeeping, compiled by Bee Culture Magazine: http://www.beeculture.com/content/whoswho/ Bees that have swarmed are so healthy and happy and so gung-ho to get inside a new place to continue their life cycle - they are some of the best bees available for starting new hives. All the best to Guerilla Beekeepers in their Live Bee Relocation Business! :-) -- Christy Hemenway Gold Star Honeybees Bath, Maine 207-449-1121

Donna Scoular says …

Does the honey need to be refrigerated once opened? Thank you,.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DONNA - No. Honey is perfectly fine left out at room temperature.