Today, we invite back Brian Peterson-Roest from Bees In The D. Bees In The D is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a cooperative effort between residents, schools, organizations, and businesses in the city of Detroit and Southeast...
Today, we invite back Brian Peterson-Roest from Bees In The D. Bees In The D is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a cooperative effort between residents, schools, organizations, and businesses in the city of Detroit and Southeast Michigan to contribute to both the health of honey bee colonies and native pollinators, and the education of their importance to our environment.
Brian was with us back in December of 2019 and introduced us to their program in S.E. Michigan. In this episode, he returns to talk about their updates and all their growth. Also, he discusses their plans to build the Michigan Pollinator Center to serve as the Bees in the D main location and to help educate the community about the importance of pollinators and honey bees.
They run at 100 miles per hour. Listen to this episode and see if you can keep up with everything they are doing!
Before we talk with Brian, we talk with Dr. Jeff Pettis, who is the current President of Apimondia. A couple of weeks ago, Apimondia announced that the 2022 Congress scheduled in Ufa, Russia, was canceled due to Russia's (senseless) invasion and war with Ukraine. Jeff joins us to talk about the decision and the announcement made on March 13 to relocate the 2022 Congress!
Also in this episode, we welcome back Ed Colby as he reads story from his new book, A Beekeeper’s Life: Tales from the Bottom Board. This week, he talks about levitation in line while at Apimondia in Ukraine in 2019!
This is a packed episode! One of our longest yet. Let us know what you think by leaving comments for this episode above. Start a discussion!
Thank you for listening!
Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:
We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer service, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com
We welcome HiveAlive back as an episode sponsor. HiveAlive is the #1 liquid feed supplement for honeybees worldwide. It contains a unique blend of seaweed extracts, thyme and lemongrass. HiveAlive has been proven to increase bee strength, produce more honey, improved bee gut health and improved overwinter survival. Ask about HiveAlive and new HiveAlive Fondant & Pollen Patty at your local beekeeping store or visit the website www.usa.hivealivebees.com for more information.
This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode!
Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!
Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com
We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.
We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments: email@example.com
Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com
Thank you for listening!
Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott
Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC
Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.
Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.
Introduction: Hey Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They are a family-operated business that manufacturers protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees.
Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.
Jeff Ott: Thanks Global Patties and thank you, Sherry. Hey everybody. You know each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support and we know you'd rather us go right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all this happen from the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.
We want to welcome back Hive Alive as an episode sponsor. Hive Alive is the number one liquid feed supplement for honeybees worldwide. It contains a unique blend of seaweed extracts, thyme, and lemongrass. The formula has been proven to help bees produce more honey, improve bee gut health, and improve overwinter survival. Ask about Hive Alive at your local beekeeping store or visit their website at usa.hivealivebees.com for more information.
We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of this episode. 2 Million Blossoms is dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Listen to educators and trainers at 2 Million Blossoms, the podcast at 2millionblossoms.com and that is with a number two, available from the website, or from where you download and stream your shows.
Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. We got a different show lined up for you today. First off, I'll just let you know, Kim is out in the bee yard. He couldn't get back in time. He's sweeping the snow off the front of the beehives from the weekend snow. He'll be joining us in just a little bit when we talk to Brian Peterson-Roest of the Bees in the D. If you remember, Brian was one of the bees from the Bees in the D podcast episode we had back in December of 2019. They have a great program going on in Detroit focused on education but also spreading the good word about pollinators and honey to corporate America. They're centered in the southeast Michigan area.
Well, as you're aware, the Russia invasion of Ukraine has been touched many, many, many lives around the world. It's unprecedent in recent time. It's impacted many businesses, many lives, most importantly. However, one of the impacts has been that to beekeepers and to Apimondia. Coming up next, I have with us, Dr. Jeff Pettis. Jeff Pettis is the former USDA ARS Research Leader in Beltsville and he specializes in pests and diseases and pesticides. He was last on with us in May of 2020. You might want to check out that episode.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Jeff yesterday morning right after he got off the plane from Europe. He has some important information and updates about Apimondia 2022. Let's listen to that right now. Hi, Jeff. Welcome back to Beekeeping Today Podcast. Really appreciate you taking time out of the busy, busy schedule to be here to give us the latest update on Apimondia.
Jeff Pettis: Thank you, Jeff. It's good to be with you and good to be talking to your audience again. Be glad to talk about the changes and things that have happened to make money and in this past little bit.
Jeff Ott: The world's in quite a turmoil right now and Apimondia, unfortunately, got caught up in that. Can you give us a little bit of background on the decision-making process and then finally, what the decisions have been made at Apimondia?
Jeff Pettis: Sure. We met in Montreal, I guess it was 2019, and we were scheduled to meet in 2021 in Ufa, Russia in the province of Bashkortostan and then COVID hit. COVID, almost no travel, so we pushed that decision we pushed it back a year to keep that we would meet in 2022 in Ufa, Russia. Well, this past what? Week and a half or something, it became more and more obvious that Russia was not a possibility.
We didn't come out immediately with a decision on the Ufa Congress simply because we had to go through a process. We had to go check legally, et cetera, et cetera but the decision was made. I think it's been five or six days ago, now we announced it, that the Ufa Congress was canceled. We made that official and it was unanimous among our executive committee. Then the next thing is, do we hold a congress on a short order somewhere else? Or do we wait and go to Santiago, Chile in 2023, which we're scheduled to do?
Jeff Ott: The congress is held every two years?
Jeff Pettis: Every two years. The unofficial oscillation is we're in a European area, Eastern, Western Europe, whatever, in Europe, and then we meet outside of Europe. It oscillates back and forth. We met in the Americas in Canada and then we were supposed to come back into Europe for this one. Then we meet again, then go back to the Americas, it just have to be South America. We're going to Santiago, Chile. Prior to that, we'd gone to places like, we were in South Korea. Our outside meeting outside of Europe was in South Korea. We meet every two years. Every two years we try to meet. We met this morning. We just met as an Executive Committee this morning.
Jeff Ott: This is Sunday.
Jeff Pettis: This is Sunday. Because we span the globe, well, yes, I am the furthest east, I guess. I'm up at 6:00 AM to be on the call. We have colleagues in Philippines and Australia who are about ready to go to bed. We have to span that globe. We met this morning again. We've met about four times recently, just going over the different scenarios. We were down to two possible sites and we decided on Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul, Turkey will host Apimondia Congress in 2022. We decided that this morning.
The only thing that couldn't be decided was the exact dates. We're still thinking the first week of September, but we're at two different congress venues and their dates are slightly different. Until we lock that in, which, again, we'll do in a couple of days. By the time this thing airs, it may be on our website, the firm dates, but it will be Istanbul, it will be a full congress. Part of that decision was because our conference organizing team is based there and in a way, it's apolitical. We go there because it's short notice, we can carry everything out. If you can imagine trying to move a major congress to a new venue, there's a lot of logistics to consider.
Jeff Ott: How many people do typically attend a congress?
Jeff Pettis: Good question. Probably our biggest congresses have been up to 12,000, and on the low end, probably in the 3,000 to 4,000. It depends on the venue and things like that. It oscillates, but we typically attract between 6,000 and 8,000 people from all over the globe to an Apimondia Congress.
Jeff Ott: I was fortunate and able to attend the congress up in Vancouver, British Columbia. That was fun. It was just crazy.
Jeff Pettis: The thing to me and this, I started out as a student going to Apimondia and then I started out-- I was a scientist going to speak in Apimondia. To me, the whole thing about an Apimondia Congress is you get beekeepers and scientists and other people altogether and you could talk and interact with people from all over the globe. It's really that atmosphere. You're right. I was living in Vancouver at the time. I was a postdoc and I helped the group organize it, and by help I participated, and I thought the Vancouver meeting was great.
Jeff Ott: Yes. This schedule going to Istanbul, approximately the same time frame within a week or two. That helps anybody preparing papers or targeting that for their papers, it keeps them on schedule.
Jeff Pettis: I had this on note to make sure I said that. We've had the abstract submission open for, I don't know, three or four weeks. We'll be contacting all those people. "Would you still want to keep your papers submitted? But now it's not Ufa, Russia, now it's Istanbul, Turkey?" That's the first question. Second question. We'll reach out to those who haven't submitted. "Would you now consider coming to Istanbul and presenting?" Anything that's been submitted so far abstract wise we'll continue to considering, we'll ask them if they want to attend or not.
The other part of the congress that's really important and people really enjoy is the AP Expo. Where we have all this trade show and those people who submitted to Ufa, they can work with our congress organizer and say, "Okay, I'd like a booth in Istanbul, I'm going to--," and then they also have the option. This is important. Let's say we use AI route and they wanted to have a booth in Ufa, Russia. They have the option of taking that same thing and either coming to Istanbul or going to Santiago, Chile. Obviously we're going to be very flexible.
Some people have already signed contracts and submitted funds and stuff to hold space for a booth. We'll be very flexible in how they use that booth. They can withdraw completely. They can go to Istanbul and then go to Istanbul and Santiago, or just Santiago.
Jeff Ott: We're running up on real quick time, I told you'd only take a few seconds here this Sunday morning. Was there legal issues? Do you have to deal with the hotel and the conference center in Ufa?
Jeff Pettis: We just wanted to make sure that we were covered as far as canceling in Ufa. We don't think there was any exposure, but we had to go through a process formally. In the future we may and we've had that before, where you have this, there's an inability to have the congress in a certain city to make sure there's no legal obligation. It's unfortunate. We'd like to say one thing, we're not trying to punish the Russian beekeepers, they have nothing to do with what's going on by the Russian hierarchy, it's a shame, but it was impossible to hold anything in Russia this year.
Jeff Ott: I absolutely agree and support the decision. Very good, Jeff. I really appreciate you taking the time. You said you just got back into Atlanta Area from Paris and now you're going to go pick up some bees, so I'll let you go do that. Is there anything else you want to tell our listeners about Apimondia before we let you go?
Jeff Pettis: I'll just say, I'm stationed in the US, I'm going to South Georgia to pick up some good Georgia bee. I'm a Georgia native.
Jeff Ott: There you go.
Jeff Pettis: There is a plug for plug for Georgia bees. Just we hope to see you at an Apimondia Congress. I think beekeepers around the globe enjoy it. Just come, if you can come to Istanbul this year, do, and if not, we will see you in Santiago, Chile. Look forward to seeing old friends and familiar faces soon.
Jeff Ott: Absolutely. Appreciate all the hard work you've been doing for all of Apimondia and especially in the last couple weeks given the world events.
Jeff Pettis: It's been trying.
Jeff Ott: I bet it has. Thanks a lot. Safe travels.
Jeff Pettis: Thanks Jeff. Bye bye.
Jeff Ott: All right. Well, you heard it here first. Apimondia 2022 is in Istanbul. Check the Apimondia website for more information and exact dates. Our old friend Ed Colby is back this week with a story from his tales from the bee yards. This also happens to deal with Apimondia and the Ukraine. Let's listen to him now.
Ed Colby: The registration line at Apimondia, the international bee conference in Kiev Ukraine took five hours, mostly outside in the rain. Once inside the building, it got tight. The crowd hydraulics were so powerful. Our friend Therese levitated and tilted sideways in the crush. Think of it. People couldn't breathe. Some cried out for mercy. Four registration booths handled thousands of conferees. One copy machine and not enough toner. The Germans nearly rioted, no one died.
That was on Sunday, by Monday when my side kick Marilyn and I registered, it was a breeze, at least it wasn't raining. With one of us to hold the other's place in line. We drank espresso, ate open faced lock sandwiches, and learned how to say toilet in Russian. We struggled to communicate with cheerful Ukrainian beekeepers, threw our arms around strangers and posed for pictures. An English speaking economist with shocking red lips in a sleeveless black fur dress invited us to visit her in Belarus.
There were odd moments, like when we finally arrived at the door to get inside and met a hoard of already registered conferees being denied admittance to the building, they wanted to get to a lecture upstairs. The official language of the conference was supposed to be English, but all the door guards could say was, "Net." Two hours later Marilyn and I had our conference passes and we could look back and laugh at it all. Airline travel has trained us to accept, and even expect the absurd, you learn to shut up and wait in line.
But Therese's levitation story riveted this claustrophobe, I wonder if I'd snap. Inside the hall, the trade show featured hundreds of exhibitors. I learned about high tech Lyson Polish honey extractors. Austrian bee vital herbal chalk brew treatments. A Romanian machine to extract bee bread. The expansion of beekeeping in Tanzania. The lectures ran the gamut from dynamic to inscrutable. We native speakers get spoiled. We expect the world to come to us, and it generally does, but if you attend to talk titled East Java propolis inhibits cytokine pro-inflammatory in odontoblast last like cells, human pulp. You may be in over your head.
The university of Maryland's Dennis vanEngelsdorp hammered on a favorite theme. The inability of some beekeepers to adapt to change. He showed a bell curve that graft people according to their willingness to accept new ideas. Then pulled the audience about their cell phone use, who got a cell phone early on, who waited a while, who had an iPhone. Finally, who today still doesn't have a cell phone. That would be me. Marilyn and I were in the front row, and I was too sheepish to look back and see who else raised their hand.
We went on a three day Ukrainian beekeeping tour with other Apimondia visitors before the conference. Luckily we had a cadre of new friends, nothing like a familiar face halfway around the world. I was eating at the sandwich wagon outside the main hall when I spied a spare grand gent letting the freak flag fly. He sported a blue Jean jacket that advertised CC Pollen, Phoenix Arizona.
I thought, "I wonder who that is. He must have worked for Bruce at CC Pollen once." Then it hit me, it had to be Bruce. I'd only heard his gravelly voice on the phone before. In my mind's eye, he looked a little more, oh, business like maybe. That phone voice for sure had short hair. I woofed my sandwich and ran after him, but he'd already vanished into the crowd. Later We caught up. So I got to say, "Bruce Brown, I presume?"
Bruce is a smart guy and an international operator, but he doesn't show you all his cards right away. We kept running into each other. Finally, outside the catacombs of the Kyivo-Pechers’ka monastery where a beggar approached us using unmistakable sign language. The beggar informed us he was hungry. What can you do? Jesus commands us to feed the hungry. We gave him some gryvnyas, but it didn't end there, the beggar demanded more, then it got ugly. A shopkeeper with a stick finally chased him off. Tourists were always a mark.
Later Marilyn got her pocket picked in the subway. The thief unzipped the pouch hung around her neck. He never found her passport or most of her cash tucked inside separate compartments. She lost her debit card and her Garfield county library card. I said some pick pocket is going to come to the states and check out a bunch of books on your card and you'll get to find when they don't come back.
We had a little bad luck. We had some good luck in Ukraine too. I'll tell you all about the good luck another time.
Jeff Ott: Well, we all could use some good luck in the Ukraine. Thanks Ed, and we look forward to your next story. Well, everybody thanks a lot for putting up with just me and the opening segment of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Kim is going to be with us with Brian and Bees in the D, here shortly.
Next week, he'll be here with us with an update from Bee Book's Old New, with Kim Flottum, sponsored by Northern Bee Books. All right, let's get on with a show, but first a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.
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Jeff Ott: Hey everybody. Welcome back. We really, really appreciate our sponsors' support. Sitting across a virtual Zoom table right now is Brian Peterson-Roest. We welcome you back. You are with us back in 2019 from Bees in the D, fresh in Downtown Detroit. Welcome, Brian.
Brian Peterson-Roest: Thank you. It's always great to be with you guys.
Kim: It's good to see you back again, Brian. From what I hear, you guys have been doing well.
Brian: Despite the pandemic, we just keep moving along, and actually, it's opened up some other doors and allowed us to do some things that we probably would've never done if it wasn't for it. Yes, doing well.
Jeff Ott: As I mentioned, we had you back on December, 2019. It was season 2, episode 10 for us. Can you tell us a little bit about what Bees in the D does. The origin? Your beginning story if you will, and what you do? And bring us up to date.
Brian: Sure, I would love to. Bees in the D actually was started in 2016, but I have been beekeeping for about 14 years. I was already a beekeeper for quite a few years before we decided to start the nonprofit. Moved to the city, missed having bees right at my fingertips, and so we contacted a couple of friends that owned businesses downtown and said, "You got a little roof space?" They said, "Yes."
We started with six hives at that first year in 2016, then the word got out. Then when we put our bees up on the conference center, which is now Huntington Place, it was TCF Center, it was Cobo, that really got attention. We went from the 6 hives to 29 the next year. Then we went up to 102 the year after that, and then up to 200. Now we're going to have about 220 hives at about 65 locations this coming season. Our main thing is education and conservation, not just of honeybees, but of all pollinators. It's been really fun to really do a lot of cool events and help educate people about the importance of our pollinators.
Kim: That's interesting, because your paying gig, your paying job is a fifth-grade school teacher. We were chatting about that a little bit before we started recording, but you're also maintaining over 200 colonies. You're not doing that all yourself.
Brian: I'm very lucky and fortunate to have wonderful beekeeper volunteers. Actually, one of our volunteers, Hank has been beekeeping for over 40 years and he is just-- I love when I get to be together with him because he's just a wealth of knowledge. Actually, we've just taken on another beekeeper that's been doing beekeeping for quite a while. We've actually just formed a partnership with Heroes to Hives, which you've probably heard of, where there are veterans that learn beekeeping.
A lot of those beekeepers that are trained especially here in Southeast Michigan live in an environment, apartments, things that they couldn't have their own hives. It's a great partnership for us because now we have hives and they can manage some of the hives almost like they're their own, but it's a partnership with Bees in the D.
Jeff Ott: Well, that is a great partnership.
Kim: It is.
Brian: It's like perfect. It's been a real blessing to have it.
Jeff Ott: Absolutely.
Kim: How many people you got involved doing all of that, Brian?
Brian: Our volunteer list is now up to 400, but that's not beekeepers [laughs]. We have a lot of people that are interested in what we're doing in social media. Now that we're going to be, which we'll probably be talking about in a little bit having some botanical gardens in our pollinator center. The majority of those volunteers are very excited about getting their hands dirty and working in the soil, and helping to keep the gardens looking great and helping to keep great way station for our pollinators. At the core, it's a dozen or two dozen that really are instrumental in the ins and outs of Bees in the D.
Jeff Ott: What is your core mission and vision?
Brian: We really stem on two pillars, education, and conservation. Education will probably be the main goal, of course, me being a teacher. I really want to help educate people about the importance of our pollinators, not just honeybees, but the native bees as well. Because of how important they are to not only the ecosystem but our own food industry. It's not our goal to make everybody a beekeeper, because that's not for the majority of the people, but it is our goal to help them understand the basics of pollination and how important our bees are to the big picture of things.
Then, of course, the conservation side, especially with some of our native bees that actually are even being put on endangered species list. Really sharing that importance of how we can help in that situation, whether it's planning a small pollinator garden, putting out water for them, using less pesticides, just all kinds of different ways that people can help.
HiveALive: We welcome Hive Alive back as an episode sponsor. Hive Alive is the number one liquid feed supplement for honeybees worldwide. It contains a unique blend of seaweed extracts, thyme and lemongrass. Hive Alive has been proven to increase bee strength, produce more honey, improve bee gut health, and improve overwinter survival. Ask about Hive Alive and new Hive Alive fondant and pollen patty at your local beekeeping store, or visit the website usa.hivealivebees.com for more information.
Kim: Brian, you mentioned you have 200 plus hives you're going to have this year. You started with hives on the roof of a building on one of the businesses. Are all of your hives on roofs or are you spread out a little bit more?
Brian: No, most of them actually are on the ground because it is a little bit more convenient, but when we're in the more core downtown area, it's just convenient. Roof space is wasted. Then we're even fortunate enough that we're on a few green roofs which is not only a gorgeous picture, but it's cool to have that sustainability and to work with businesses with that.
For example, right on Woodward Avenue at the Shinola Hotel, which has become a very popular place to stay in Detroit. We have 4 hives on the historic Singer Building. Our urban bees-- I think that's what's fun about Bees in the D, we're spread out across five counties in Southeast Michigan, and we go an hour north of the city, and hour west of the city, and hour south of the city. We have hives in rural locations, in suburban locations, and in urban locations.
It's fun for us to get to see the difference in the beekeeping. Then a really fun aspect of that is we don't mix our honeys. All of our honey harvest are small batch to the location. That's so fun because of the different colors and the different flavors, that people get to taste the different profiles and realize that it really does make a difference, what resources the bees are going to, or the time of year of when they're foraging to that honey. We do a lot of fun honey sampling events as well, where people get to enjoy that.
Jeff Ott: Do you label as such coming from this--?
Brian: We do actually. On our jars, we have a safety seal and on that safety seal is a QR code that goes to our webpage, but we handwrite on the safety seal a little code. For example if it was, it still goes by TCF, but it's now the Huntington Place, but if it's on the TCF Center, if it's that honey, it will have a TCF. Then when you scan it and you go to our webpage, it has the codes and it allows you to see not only on a map where those hives are.
We're actually working with the Best Bees as well to do the DNA analysis of the honey so that we can also let people know the flavor profiles, what flowers the bees went to, to create those profiles. We're still in the works of doing that. That's not on the webpage yet, but we're looking forward to getting that up and running as well.
Jeff Ott: That'll be very cool.
Kim: Yes, that would be very cool, because then you're looking at, you were talking about pollinator preservation and habitat restoration and those sorts of things. What grows in the urban area? What can I make that-- You know that it grows there, now I can make more of it happen. As opposed to hoping that what I plant grows, you've got a heads up on what they're doing already.
Brian: Great point Kim, because I wanted to quick share with you that that's one of the biggest questions I get when I do my presentations, especially my pollinator garden one. "What should I plant for the bees?" And exactly, this is going to give us more data of it. It appears like the bees are really using this resource over another one. You're right, that it's giving us data how we can plant to help support our bees even more.
Kim: The next part of that question, or the next part of that situation, is you've got bees way out in the country, kind of in the country, urban, suburban, country. I'm guessing that after the amount of time you've been at this, you can with some accuracy and confidence say, "Yes, the bees in the middle city have these problems. The bees in the suburban have these problems. The bees out in the country have these problems. If you're going to put bees on the roof in the middle of Downtown Detroit, this is the thing to look for first."
Brian: It's interesting, because this is part of some of my presentations that I do that I ask people. I pull them to ask, which of those areas do you think the bees have a highest survival rate, or more honey? It always surprises people that my urban bees do the best, more honey production, more winter survival. Best Bees has actually, I mention them again, have done a lot of studies on this and it's due to diversity of plant life.
It's almost like your brain doesn't understand that, because you're like, "Wait, in the city?" But we've created such mono-societies out in the rural areas that there's not as much diversity. In suburbia, we're still stuck in that rut of that perfectly groomed yard, and using roundup and pesticide and a lot of people don't want to have a lot of maintenance in their yard. It's a lot of shrubbery that aren't really the most beneficial to our pollinators. It makes sense, but it is fun to talk about that with people in presentations,
Kim: I can see an entrepreneur very soon coming up with his Bees in the D seed mix that would flourish in Downtown, flourish in the suburbs, and maybe out in the country too, so that you could-- Now that what they're doing, you can even make it better for them by doing something like that.
Brian: I like the way you think.
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Kim: Well, one of the other things coming up is, you've got a botanical garden coming up and a building, is that right?
Brian: Yes. We are breaking ground this spring, actually on Earth Day, April 22nd-
Kim: Very cool.
Brian: -on the Michigan Pollinator Center. We bought some lots from the Land Bank of Detroit, their vacant lots that have turned back to basically nature. We are putting up a building, a small blueprint of a building because we want people outside, but it we'll have some educational aspects there. Including rooftop beehives that are on a green roof and then a deck that allows people that they can watch from the inside or they could get suited up with us and go in the hives.
Then we also are looking at a phase two of buying, actually the rest of the block that is in Core City of Detroit. We're doing mini botanical gardens. What by that is, when you think of a botanical garden, it's this large spacious acres and acres and there's different themed gardens throughout. We want to do that, but shrink it down. People will be able to walk through a lot or two that is a cottage garden, and then they can walk through a growing garden, and then they can walk through a sensory garden. Because we want people to see the different styles of plantings that they can do for their yards and find the one that's a good fit for them.
Also show them that no matter which garden you're doing, there are plants that are very beneficial to our pollinators, not just bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moss. There's so many different pollinators that people don't even realize are out there.
Jeff Ott: Oh, that's really cool. I really like that. That's really smart approach. Each lot could have its own own focus, its own flora, its own approach.
Brian: Exactly, an it allows you to in be able to encounter it in a shorter amount of time. We're very excited about that and there's going to be a lot of education also about sustainability with the green roofs, with rain gardens, with water collection to talk about that, more permeable, like the pass and stuff are not going to be concrete. We're trying to really educate about that as well, because in Michigan, the rains this last summer, the flooding was horrible. I think we're starting to realize, we've got of have a plan for where this water is going to go. We want to help people realize that we can still have businesses and things like that, and we can create it in a way that we can be in harmony with nature a little bit more.
Kim: One of the things that I saw on your webpage, and it's very well done webpage, by the way.
Brian: Thank you.
Kim: I encourage people to go take a look at it, because there's a lot of good information. One of the headers on the top of the first page was donate. My question is, you've got your fingers in a lot of pies here, and you've got figures and more pies coming up in the future. Where does the funding for this come from? Can I ask?
Brian: Yes. Actually we are so fortunate, because I think people really sense our passion and I really do feel like bees are hot. I call them the new pandas that people are starting to realize their importance and the Save the Bee Campaign. A lot of people get stuck in thinking of just honey bees, but save the bees are all of our pollinators. We have very generous people that donate, but the fun part for us is all the partnerships that we have.
By working with Chrysler, well now it's Stellantis, and working with GM and working with the Convention Center or Bedrock or these larger hotels, there are maintenance fees. Then a lot of them get the honey which then are used in the kitchens there. You get the honey right from the roof down for the restaurant. That also helps us with funding as well. Then I also have to share that we do sell our honey, that's the cherry on top with having honey bees, that there is a product that we can sell. We also make our own lip balms from the wax that is left over from the harvest.
We have partnerships with Motor City Candle that makes candles and then they give us 50% of the profit of the bees wax candles that they make. A lot of really fun partnerships. One that I have to share and maybe I shared it last time. We have these up on the Detroit City Distillery, it a wonderful place that makes the best bourbon. We actually now take for the last three years now, 55 gallons of honey and put it in a bourbon barrel and let that age for three months. Then it takes on that bourbon flavor. Then they put bourbon back in the barrel to have a honey bourbon and we have a bourbon honey. We did 500 jars of honey this year and it sold out in two hours.
It's just things like that, that people are totally looking forward to that really help us financially as well.
Kim: Where can I go and where can I go and put my name on the list that I want to get one of those bottles?
Brian: You are not the first, we get emails all year long. We do it every Black Friday, because it's a perfect Christmas. Now it's formed other partnerships with-- Like there's a leather company here that used recycled car leather called Pingree and we've made now the bourbon honey coasters, and we have bourbon honey glasses. It's become crazy. People email us, "How do I get on the list?" And it's like, "You just got to do the presale on Black Friday."
Jeff Ott: Who do I need to know to get a bottle of the bourbon.
Kim: Yes, exactly.
Brian: I might know somebody that might be able to help you out.
Jeff Ott: That would be great. I think I tried getting that last last time I must have been a minute late or something. It was a two hours in one minute. It was like--
Brian: The great news is the bourbon, they can make quite a bit more because they can take honey and supplement that to make the bourbon. This year they did make quite a bit more so they actually stored he bourbon for sale for about a week afterwards.
Jeff Ott: Oh, very good.
Brian: The honey is very limited because we're at the mercy of the bees.
Jeff Ott: Hey we've spent a little bit more time on the bourbon [laughter] than I was really-- Actually it sounds like a great idea, but the whole concept of the hub sounds really cool and I think it's a great approach. Great for the community. Can we talk a little bit more about the hub?
Brian: Yes. It's interesting. You use the word hub because we use that word too. That finally Bees in the D is going to have a home base. All of our office end stuff, all of that, we're just out of our own home, but because we're at many different locations but we also have storage there. It's going to be a great place for us to have our headquarters but when we started to look at the vision for this we realized it was much bigger than just Bees in the D. This is going to be a destination to learn about all of our pollinators and the destination to enjoy nature right in the heart of the city. It's in Core City. It's that name because it's right in the core.
We're very excited apart about the neighborhood we're a part of because there's other projects that are a lot of urban gardens. It's just a really great fit. We actually already have some bees at one of the gardens that's right down the street from where that is and that's what brought us to that area.
Jeff Ott: All right, that sounds like a great place for an observation hive. Are you considering an observation for the hub?
Brian: Yes, I'm toying with the idea. I do love observation hives. I know that they can be a little bit difficult on the bees and we want what's best for the bees, but they've come a long way. The right treatment and stuff, now how you can treat, you can treat observation hives, but in the past it was very difficult to be able to do that. I am investigating that but I would love that. The crown jewel of the center for me is the observation deck. That's upstairs on the second floor. The hives were literally right out the window so people can feel like they're right next to the hives but be behind glass.
Jeff Ott: Yes. [laughs]
Brian: It's almost like a giant observation hives if you will, where you're seeing. Then we're planning to have like if I'm giving a tour inside of the hive, I can go right up to the windows because the hives are right there and have a microphone that then projects my voice into the center. Even here at the outdoor adventure center right down the river, from where we live, we have four hives and we have internal cameras in one of the hives and one external camera and that projects into the education center.
You can see the bees in the education center inside and the activity on the outside. The cool thing is we also partner with DTE. They provided a solar panel so all the power that's needed for it is done by the sun. It's just fun sustainability projects like that. That are pretty cool. We're hoping to do the same at the center as well.
Jeff Ott: I'll throw something out at you here. I've seen this done before in other places and the icing on the cake is a microphone that so you-
Brian: In the hive?
Jeff Ott: Yes. -so that you're seeing what's in the hive and you're hearing what's in the hive and it adds-
Brian: I love it.
Jeff Ott: -it adds a level of complexity, but also attention.
Brian: You know what, Kim? It's funny you say that because when I talk to people about our hive dives as we call them, or experiences, I always say that all of your senses are tickled. Obviously, watching the bees is magical, and then hearing the bees is like, you're right. ot just brings it up a notch. Then getting to taste. Then the smell, you know, as beekeepers. That smell is just amazing. I love when we take the girl Scouts. We brought back the girl scout patch and we bring the girls into the hive to earn that patch, but I love to get a drone bee after we're done with the experience and let the girls hold the drone because. as you know, male bees don't have stingers and so we don't have to worry about that, and let it touch the bee and feel the bee as it's crawling on their hands. It's just, all the senses really are perked when you go into a hive.
Kim: One of the neatest things that I've seen, I've seen it a lot of times but I never tire of it, is when you have somebody that, a young person, and you take that drone and puts it in her hand and they vibrate their wings-
Kim: -and you get that vibration in your fingers and it goes up your arms. It's the look on their faces.
Jeff Ott: I will only warn that you have to let the child know that it's a drone and it won't sting you because my daughter, when she was two or three, I used to take her to the bee yards and teach her bees and did the same thing with a drone, and then, I don't know, several days later she went at her friend's house and was showing everybody how nice honey bees were. She tried to pick one up off a clove something like that and boy was she surprised and she remembers that to this day. She blames me, [laughter] but it's, I say that in jest but also in some cautionary tale.
Brian: That's one reason with Bees in the D, if you ever watch any of my educational videos, I'm always glove, I'm always with a veil when I'm on video because I don't want that misunderstanding. You just made the point right there. I do always tell the kids after the tour, I let them know that you're with a professional beekeeper and so unless you're with a beekeeper or you have learned how to do beekeeping, you don't want to try some of these things on your own for that very reason-
Jeff Ott: You're right.
Brian: -because I do feel like a lot of times when we see some of these videos with people doing all kinds of things with beehives, yes, these are very docile, but they are just like humans. Sometimes they're having a bad day or they may be queenless or the weather may be turning and there could be a misunderstanding. I just want to keep people safe and protected because-
Jeff Ott: That's good.
Brian: -that's right there at the top of the list of what's you have to really educate people about.
Jeff Ott: Absolutely. No, that's good point. Good point.
Kim: You mentioned Girl Scouts. Do you have other classes going on in the middle of all of these?
Brian: Yes, so you heard me say that the pandemic opened up a lot of new things and it open up the virtual world. I have been doing presentations now across the nation, actually across the pond, if you will. Beekeeping's pretty big in Europe. They've heard about the beekeeping that's happening here in Detroit and Bees and the D and so I've been doing presentations virtually for them. Texas, California. That has allowed me to do a lot of educating. Probably my most popular class, if you will, I would say it's more of just a workshop or a session, is my pollinators garden one because it gives you a little glimpse at bees and beekeeping.
It's not training to be a beekeeper, but it just gives some people some knowledge about it. Then I go into a lot of the plants that are beneficial for our bees and what they need. I'm a huge gardener as well. I actually, here in Michigan this past summer, got my master gardener's certificate as well. I love educating about that because gardening's really something. Even somebody in an apartment can have a pot on their patio that has plants in it that bees love to stop by.
Kim: You have that exactly right. These virtual programs that you do, are they on your web page? Can I go and listen to one?
Brian: No, I don't have recordings of them, but they're listed, if you go down over to education, it has just a brief little description of them, of what it is, and then people can reach out to us, but I have not recorded them and put them on the website. However, when I do presentations with libraries, a lot of times they ask if they can record it and I'm like, "Of course." A lot of times they link it up to their library as well. The Girl Scout patch, because of COVID and not being able to do the tours, I actually did make a 45-minute hive dive video that the girls could watch to have that section. I'm so excited. This spring, we already have some on the calendar, we're getting get back to suiting up the kids and letting them come into the hives lives. Finally, right?
Kim In your presents, are there other organizations, other groups, other individuals, trying to copy your model in their, whatever, name your town, but Bees in a-- ?
Brian: Yes, it's interesting you say that. I joke with people that sometimes-- People ask us all the time, "Why are you training new beekeepers? Aren't you creating more competition?" [laughter] I don't understand that mindset. It's like, no, that's our whole purpose. We want people to have greater knowledge about bees. We want there to be more people that are helping with the cause, and so I joke that I have the Elon Musk mentality. For people that don't know that, his technology with the cars, it's open. He wants people to know about it because he wants other people to model it because it's better for our earth.
Yes, I love passing this stuff on and, actually, we've had quite a few cities that have reached out to us about our pollinator center. You know there's a lot that goes into it with the blueprints and the getting the different contractors, but we plan to package that all up so that if cities do approach, just we can say. "Here's all the legwork we did. [laughs] Make the magic happen elsewhere," because that's what we want. I have a little saying that I say to people all the time. It's about the bees, not the keeper. It's not about the keeper. It's not about me. It's not even about Bees in the D . It's about our pollinators.
That's what we really want people to understand that it's we love having success, but part of having success is sharing that success and that knowledge so that there can be success all over the place.
Jeff Ott: That's really a great approach. A great message.
Brian: Yes, I appreciate you saying that because I think sometimes we get into this mentality of that competition word again, and it's like, that's not what this is about.
Jeff Ott: Right. That's really, really good.
Kim: I can almost see a Bees in the D YouTube channel coming up here fairly soon.
Brian: Yes, we do have a few YouTube videos, but with having a full-time job and all of that, it's okay. I like to put up the videos and some of them have gotten a lot of hits, but I'm not looking, necessarily, to go viral or anything because I really have a feeling that the more viral you go, the more criticism you get as well, and so I just want to focus on doing what's great for our pollinators. That's in education. You can see that I love to talk and I'm very passionate about this and people getting an earful about bees all the time, but they just sit there in awe because these creatures are so amazing and complex. When people hear about some of just the basic facts about bees, they're like, "No way." It almost doesn't seem real because it's so amazing.
Kim: You're absolutely right. Where do you see Bees in the D in the next couple years? Where are you going? You're working on the education center and you're working on a botanical gardens?
Brian: Botanical gardens, yes. I really see that being a big focus and we just want to create a space where people can come and learn. School groups, camps, just families that want to just experience these gardens and looking at the hives. I think that's where a lot of our focus is going to go. Of course, we'll still keep our partnerships because that's very important, but we really want the attention to go to this more central pollinator center, because a lot of our partnerships, it's more Bees in the D and that company. I can't bring all of these people up on the roof of certain places, and so this is going to allow a lot more of the general public to be involved and I'm very excited about that.
Kim: One of the things, just real quick, other people around the country that have partnerships like you do with, you mentioned a few companies, and you've got bees up on their roof. If you're a hotel or a place that serves food, you're able to take that honey and put it right into recipes and they can really, you know, "These are our bees. The bees up on the roof here." The companies like, you mentioned Chrysler and it's not Chrysler anymore. It's something else.
Brian: The Stellantis , yes.
Kim: The people that work in that building, you've got bees on their roof. Do they get a chance to see the bees, eat the honey, take advantage of what you're doing up there?
Brian: Yes. Every partnership looks a little different. There's a company that, actually, we're going to deliver it next week, Farbman, that owns properties throughout the nation, and we have bees up on the roof. We try to as much as possible schedule when we're going to go in and do our hive inspections. I always keep extra bee suits in my vehicle so that if people do want to join for that, I can educate them because, like I said, I like to talk and I'll talk you through everything, but it's cool. What they do with their honey is, they're smaller jars, they have the proper label because our label you have to have the proper information, but then on the top is another sticker that talks about the partnership with them.
They actually pass the honey out to their clients and to people that work there or people that rent from their building and that has opened up, actually, other doors to other buildings that we're at, or other companies. There's a lot of creative things like that being done because everybody loves honey. [laughs] It's liquid gold. Yes, they do get an opportunity, especially if they're interested and what's fun for me is in some locations, there's one or two people that are super excited about beekeeping and interested and I get to mentor them. Then eventually it can get to the point where they can take over. They now feel comfortable with the hives and they know that they're just a phone call away from me if they need it, and so I can pass the torch on to time to them. That's what our model's all about. We want to do that.
Kim: Is there anything that we haven't asked you about that you're just chomping at the bit to talk about?
Brian: Oh, I can't really think of anything. There's just so much going on. It's so crazy and-
Kim: It is exciting.
Brian: -it's so fun to be a part of so many and we now get a lot of the colleges that reach out and have volunteers that want to help out. That really excites me because I was nervous there for a while that they were saying that beekeeping is dying. There's not young people that are interested in it, but I'm seeing that change. The fact that we have hives at like Martin Luther King High School right here in Detroit and other schools, to get the kids excited, that means the world to me because then we know that we're helping to train the next generation of beekeepers. Our food industry and our ecosystem needs these pollinators.
Kim: Well, I couldn't have said it better. I think you've summed it up nicely there in terms of what your goals are and how you're accomplishing them extraordinarily well, I think. I must commend you on the tasks you've taken on and the advantages that you've given people to learn pollinators, pollination, all of that. All the above. This has been good. I'm going to have to take a trip to Detroit. I can see that.
Brian: Oh, I hope you guys do. That would be fun to see you guys in person. Hopefully, when you're here the center's done and to give you a little tour of the center and of the gardens. That would be great.
Jeff Ott: That'd be really good. Well, we've been talking with Brian Peterson-Roest of Bees in the D. We look forward to our next update from you and look forward to getting out to Detroit to see you here, especially once the education center's opened up and going. That'd be great fun. Great fun.
Brian: Yes, it's always great to be with you guys. Thank you for all that you do to spread the word about beekeeping as well.
Jeff Ott: Thank you. All right. W ell, we'll talk to you soon.
Kim: Thanks, Brian.
Brian: Yes, I look forward to it. Always great to see you guys.
Jeff Ott: I think I said this the last time. Brian, he must just live on caffeine and coffee. All the work that they're doing plus he's a fifth-grade teacher. He has a lot of energy. I give him credit.
Kim: Well, he really does. I'm just tired just sitting here. I don't know. I'm sitting here listening to him and I'm tired. I can see, but he's got a lot of good projects and a couple things that I see that he's learned from the past and he's taken direction from people who are doing things different than he is. He's not- What's the word I want? - he's not self-directed. He's all-encompassing. Everything that's good he seems to be adopting.
Jeff Ott: I was fascinated. I keyed on the point he made that they are selling and marketing the local and varietal honeys, or varietal to the location that it was harvested. I think that is really key. I think in this day and age where beekeepers are struggling with prices for honey and everything, that's where the small beekeeper sideliner can really monopolize on this is promoting local honey and promoting varietal honeys. The fact that they're doing that is really cool there in Bees in the D.
Kim: and smart. Yes, trying, rather than selling a commodity, they're selling a local homegrown project.
Jeff Ott: That's right. It's like their bourbon honey. Bourbon-flavored honey. Well, bourbon-flavored honey and honey bourbon.
Kim: [crosstalk] bourbon. There you go.
Jeff Ott: It's very local and very specific. When it's gone, it's gone. I mean, that's how you increase the market price or something. You make it valuable.
Kim: You limit the supply and increase the demand, and the price goes up. Exactly right. I worked with some people out in Washington a number of years ago who were doing the same thing, and they ran into the same issue. You limited the supply and increased the demand, and they couldn't keep up, and the prices went through the roof. He's onto something there, and I urged him to continue to be on to something there as long as he gives me a bottle.
Jeff Ott: You're going to have to go there to pick it up, I think.
Kim: I think you're right. Yes.
Jeff Ott: [laughs] All right. Well, that about wraps it up for this show. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars in Apple Podcast, wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on the reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping, for their continued support of Beekeeping Podcast. We also want to thank Global Patties. Check them out at www.globalpatties.com. We want to thank Hive Alive for returning as a sponsor. Check them out at www.usa.havealive.com.
We also want to thank Strong Microbials for their support. Check out their probiotic line at www.strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Better Bee for joining us as always. Check out their bee supplies at www.betterbee.com. Northern Bee Books for their continued support of bee books old and new with Kim Flottum. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today, podcast listener, for joining us on this show. Feel free to send us questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you. Kim, anything else?
Kim: One last thing. Up at the top of the screen when you go to the webpage, there's a button to share. If there's somebody that you think might benefit from what the Bees in the D are doing or they've got a program somewhere that they might be able to hook up with them, share the program with them and get more information to more people.
Jeff Ott: I'll just add one last thought. If you like this show, if you want to provide any feedback or comments, we have now implemented on our show is the ability to leave comments directly on our website for this show, so make sure you do that. Let's get a discussion going. Thanks a lot, everybody.
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Brian Peterson-Roest has been a 5th grade teacher in Rochester Community Schools for 23 years. He has a masters and specialist degree in Educational Leadership/Administration from Oakland University and is an Adjunct Professor. Brian was personally honored by President Barack Obama for receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (2012). He was also a recipient of the Michigan Science Teacher of the Year Award (2011), the Humanex Excellence in Teaching Award (2015), the Justice, Equity Diversity, Inclusion Award (2021) and was chosen as one of Crain’s Notable LGBTQ in Business Leaders (2021).
Brian founded the non-profit organization Bees in the D. Bees in the D is devoted to the education and conservation of Honey Bees and other pollinators in the Detroit area. The organization has over 200 hives at 63 different locations in Southeast Michigan and offers many workshops and classes throughout the Detroit area that share about the importance and misconceptions of Honey Bees and pollinators.
Bees in the D is excited to announce the ground breaking of the Michigan Pollinator Center the spring of 2022.