Update from the Bee Squad by Bridget Mendel Lee

Thank you all, as always, for helping us help bees!

As you read this, the Bee Squad is busy delivering honey from the season's harvest to all of our Hive to Bottle customers. Some of us are still wobbly from Bee Cruise, which took almost 80 beekeepers, bee enthusiasts and their families to see bees in Mexico, the Grand Cayman Islands, and Jamaica, and featured talks during sea days and excursions highlighting communities working with bees and other pollinators.  

One highlight was a visit to the Jamaica Deaf Village where EcoFarms Jamaica is training and employing members of the deaf community to manage honey bee colonies.  Bee Cruise was actually our second trip out of the country this year; in January we were in Nicaragua, where Bee Squad exchanged knowledge with beekeeping groups and cooperatives and learned about the challenges of and benefits to working with Africanized honey bees.

bee squad travel picture

Left to right: Jamaica Deaf Village, Stingless bees in Cozumel, Mexico, Africanized honey bees in Nicaragua

Back in the US, our team of employees and undergraduate interns have been out managing our urban and suburban apiaries every day, rain or shine. We will continue our management work throughout the winter, making sure our bees are happy and well-fed.

We are proud to have taught 58 new and experienced beekeepers this year through our Mentoring Apiary program, as well as 8 Veteran beekeepers through our Bee Veterans program. Through over 75 talks and presentations on bees and beekeeping, we estimate to have reached thousands of individuals this year. Of note is Native Bee expert Jessica Miller's talk called "Bees & Beneficial Bugs in Rain Gardens," held at Urban Growler. Jessica provides pollinator education to gardeners and water conservationists.

High points from work on the Horst Rechelbacher Foundation Pollinator Project (our "satellite campus" in Osceola, WI) include 2 public events in June and October. Well-attended by Minnesota and Wisconsin bee supporters, we were able to showcase new pollinator gardens and honey bee "hexaplots", PlantED experiments, weekly native bee surveys, student volunteer projects, and Bee Arts sculpture installations. Our colorful HMR apiary has gone from consistently hungry to abundant with honey after three years of intensive food planting for the bees.

Supported by the Target Foundation, we are expanding opportunities to connect youth to pollinator outreach via the Pollinator Ambassador program. We welcomed the Mississippi River Green Team as Pollinator Ambassadors this summer. This enthusiastic group of high schoolers learned about beneficial insects and storm water management, honey bee biology, how to survey and identify bumble bees, and how to extract honey. Their interest in pollinators and the environment gives us hope for the future!

Thank you again and stay in touch!