Jacqueline Freeman (author of Amazon bestselling “The Song of Increase”) has been keeping wild bees for 13 years now, and keeping them honey-fed and treatment free. She houses them in Warres and top bar hives, in her house walls, and in several large logs.
Susan Chernak McElroy (author of NYT bestseller “Animals as Teachers and Healers”) has been a student and friend of Jacqueline’s for about six years. She learned beekeeping by taking all of Jacqueline’s classes multiple times, and then by becoming editor/project manager for Jacqueline’s book. Now, she teaches all the beginning beekeeping classes for Preservation Beekeeping, including classes on her personal passion: straw hive and Sun Hive weaving.
The next step was this: The formation of a bee-centered bee club, and a nonprofit for educating new beekeepers and the public about bees–what they need, and how to help them survive and thrive. And so Preservation Beekeeping Council is born. Here are those who are making PBC a reality:
Jennifer Bargar – Log Hives & Swarm/Cutout Services
Jennifer graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Biology. She then spent many years in the veterinary industry before finding her true passion – helicopters. After spending over a decade as a professional helicopter pilot and working out of state for 6 years, Jennifer “retired” a year ago to start a life at home fixing up her 6+ acres, helping her husband at his veterinary hospital and becoming a beekeeper. Jennifer is a Master Composter/Recycler, avid gardener and devoted student of bees. As a dedicated nature lover, she is working toward turning her property into a certified wildlife habitat and bee sanctuary.
Thea Weiss Hayes– Resource Development & Education
Thea’s interest in pollinators and bees dates back to her childhood, with a now-realized teenage goal to become a beekeeper. Her lifetime advocacy for animals and plants played out in her horticultural, botanical and pathology research at North Carolina State University, Yale Forestry and her teaching career. Thea retired from 24 years in public science, where she focused on environmental stewardship and hands-on learning experiences for her students. She has collaborated through presentations and writing curriculum with the OSU Sea Grant Extension WISE Teacher’s Program, was an education adviser for the Willamette Water 2100 Eisenhower Grant program, has been a board member of the Oregon Invasive Species Council, and is collaborating with scientists worldwide in the Colorado State Mountain Sentinels program. Her experience in the non-profit world includes resource development, as well as varied non-profit leadership roles over a 40 year period. Thea has written successful grant proposals with Portland School Foundation, Portland METRO, Donors Choose, National Gardening Association Healthy Sprouts Award, OHSU / TIES (Teacher Institute for the Experience of Science) Program Grants, and Multnomah County Take-the-Time Program. She is currently focusing on her family, bee-centric gardening and her work for pollinators.
Pixie LaPlante– Master Gardener, Educator
Pixie LaPlante-Beatty has spent nearly 40 years in 15 states sharing her passion for herbs and wild plants. A gifted and enthusiastic educator, Pixie offers programs on planting for pollinators and people at schools, businesses, fairs, workshop, and events throughout the Pacific Northwest. She was responsible for the design and implementation of the extensive herbal gardens at Fort Vancouver. Pixie is a certified Master Gardener in Washington and Delaware, and offers consulting services in establishing pollinator-friendly gardens for schools, businesses, and private residences.
Barry Malmanger – Research & Design Facilitator
Barry’s involvement with bees has brought together several aspects of his life. He has been participated in environmental, medical, and basic science research projects for over 25 years, finding that bees allow him to use his observation skills and curious nature. As a creative woodworker, he has been designing hives that are focused on the bees well-being and a more ‘natural’ honeybee colony home. He lives on a small acreage, and is allowing a natural habitat for pollinators of all kinds.
Debbie Nagano – Legal Assistance
Deborah Nagano is a 40 year member of the California State Bar. Although her legal experience is primarily in the field of real estate, she has served on several boards of for profit corporations and has done volunteer work for a variety of nonprofits, including Triumph Cancer Foundation, Alpha K9, Reading Partners and Clayville of California. Deborah hopes to be of assistance to PBC in the areas of document review and drafting and general legal matters.
If you live nearby, we hope you will join our club and attend our meetings as we build a
village of beekeepers and bee lovers who want to preserve the wildness, the genetic diversity, and the amazing adaptability of the honeybee.
If you live at a distance, join us for access to our informative and helpful forums, and to be part of this virtual village of kindred bee spirits. Or host us at an event in your town/country!
We also wanted to share a bit more about how we—club founders—found our way to bees. Here is Jacqueline’s story:
MY FIRST CONNECTION WITH BEES
My story with bees began in 1983 when I attended some classes (in an unrelated field) a few months. Each day I ate lunch near a swimming pool. One day I noticed a honeybee who had fallen into the water. I found a stick and scooped her up and placed her on the grass. Then I noticed another and did the same. And another and another. One by one, I rescued every little bee in the water. The next day I did it again. When I say this, you’d imagine I did it about ten times, right? I’m guessing I rescued nearly a thousand bees that spring, every day until every bee was okay.
I had zero experience with bees, but this was a powerfully driven call I could not ignore and became a daily task I felt drawn to complete. Until I took up with keeping bees 20 years later, that was my only connection with them, but geez it was powerful. I still check bodies of water anywhere I go to be sure the bees are all safe.
WHY I’M DRAWN TO PRESERVATION WORK
My work as a guardian is about helping bees live full lives free of worry, surrounded by love. A friend asked me if I would take an abandoned hive who had been left for years in an overgrown backyard. My second hive came when I was asked to remove bees from an old one-room schoolhouse where they’d lived for 80 years. Word got around and I started getting calls from nervous people asking me to come over and get swarms out of their yards. I knew that fearful people are likely to kill bees, which compelled me to start educating people about their magic and inherent value. I’ve also gathered many, many hives from walls of buildings and places humans didn’t want bees to be, times when I knew those rescues prevented colonies from being harmed.
All through my bee life I’ve felt a deep connection with them. I started with bees before they came into fashion, so there were very few places to learn how to care for bees the way I felt drawn to do it, cleanly, in ways that match how wild bees live. I spent my first half dozen years asking the bees to tell me how they wanted to be cared for. At first that was just a bunch of wondering questions, me musing about what bees want from a bee-human relationship. I asked many earnest questions for years without any real answers, and then one morning I suddenly “knew” something about bees that I hadn’t the day before.
And that continued for the next few years. I believe I was being educated by the bees and I took detailed notes each morning as they explained the nature of bees and how they live in our shared world. My book, “Song of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World,” evolved out of that.
I am blessed by living on a beautiful farm my husband and I are stewards to. We are organic, biodynamic, and quite rural so overall my bees are fairly safe here, though we have had three times when someone sprayed poison within my bees’ range and those hives died horrible deaths. This really disturbs me because we are not even close to big agriculture or urban areas, yet still the bees suffer from chemical exposure. It’s heartbreaking.
That is why I wrote my book, with the hope that many thousands of people take up the call to protect all of Nature, and these ideas spread to millions of people who do whatever it takes to keep our environment clean and natural. To that end I write, speak, teach and pray that all life is honored and respected, and I try to get that out as many ways as I can.
My bee-buddy Susan Chernak McElroy (author of the NYTimes bestseller “Animals as Teachers and Healers”) and I created a bee club and website based on these principles of good stewardship and heartfelt relationship, the Preservation Beekeeping Trust <www.PreservationBeekeeping.com>, and are taking our bee work to more natural hives. She weaves straw skeps and I’m hiving bees in trees rather than normal wooden box hives. We’ve stepped away from beekeeping as a way to access honey and moved more toward providing healthy bee homes that don’t require human interference.
As I write this, it’s mid-winter here on the farm. A few days ago I was up in the garden checking on the bees and, as is normal, found a few dead-looking bees at the front entrance. I checked each one and noted most had their tongues hanging out, but I found a bee who still had her tongue in her mouth. Just in case she might still be alive but chilled, I took off my glove and carried her in my closed hand, thinking I’d warm her up when I got back to the house. But as is usual for me, I did a few other quick tasks here and there and ended up in the cow barn. I’d become so used to carrying the frozen bee in my closed hand that I’d forgotten she was there and was surprised to feel a little tickle on my palm. Yes! She was alive and even though my hands were cold, my body heat was warm enough to rouse her. A short walk back to the bee house and I placed her at the entrance. With a perky saunter, she scooted back into the hive.
I’m a self-professed member of the “every bee alive” group. I know most beekeepers would question why I put so much effort into one little bee when a hive has tens of thousands. To most people that little frozen bee wouldn’t be worth the effort. Nonetheless, I try my best to treat every bee as if she’s a unique and special bee, each worthy of care, protection and love. These individual bees were my first teachers and even now, decades later, I feel a heartfelt affinity that they each get their moment in the sun.