The honey from Ballard Bees doesn’t come from hives set in remote fields or orchards but in urban backyards right in the middle of downtown Seattle. Elliot’s mother sees her backyard hive as an opportunity to both educate her children and contribute in her own way to the security of her local food system.
[This image was made possible with generous funding from Google.]
Elliott and Duncan’s Backyard
5 MAY 2011
Each year the Ballard Bee Company gathers over four thousand pounds of locally produced honey from a hundred hives placed on rooftops and in backyards (like Ellitot’s) throughout the Seattle area.
“I see a honey bee
The bees live in a hive
I think there are drones
I hear a bee buzzing”
by ELLIOTT GILLESPIE
I ASK ELLIOTT’S MOTHER WHY SHE PUT HIVES IN THE BACKYARD OF HER SEATTLE HOME AND SHE SAYS, “IT’S SIMPLE. ELLIOTT REALLY WANTED THEM. When he was five years old, Elliott spent the summer in his backyard collecting bees in glass jars. He would observe them, compare them, let them go, then run to tell his parents what he’d discovered. He really wanted to be a “bee farmer.” His parents thought it was just a passing fancy. It wasn’t. They decided to contact the Ballard Bee Company and paid $85 to have two hives placed in their yard and maintained from March to September (they also get a share of whatever honey the bees produce).
Corky Luster had some experience with beekeeping back when he was in college, and attributes his love for beekeeping to these humble beginnings. Now, with hives all over Seattle, the Ballard Bee Company, who he partners with Karen Percelle, is a thriving business bringing people all over the area the benefits of local beekeeping. Corky owns a remodeling company, teaches classes at Seattle Tilth and is involved in the Puget Sound Bee Keepers Association.