Meet The Beekeeper Behind Bee Rescue: Jeff & Julie
In celebration of World Bee Day and our planet’s precious pollinators, Comvita is rescuing 5 Million bees by working with independent beekeepers across the US to safely relocate hives that have found their way into unwelcome areas. This interview is part of a series of introductions to get to know the lives and work of real, professional beekeepers. See what inspires them about their work, learn fascinating facts about bees, and life lessons the beehive can teach us.
Meet husband & wife beekeepers Jeff & Julie Russell (also known as @mr.mrs.beerescue ), from San Diego, California.
How long have you been beekeeping?
16 years and 3 years, respectively.
How did you get involved in beekeeping?
Jeff: I got into saving bees 16 years ago when I was in need for a job. I was in college and owned a small detailing business and my truck was stolen. The owner of a bee removal company heard my story at church and he approached me asking him if I was allergic to bees or afraid of heights - I said “Nope!” and I’ve been rescuing bees ever since! Julie: I got involved 3 years ago when Jeff broke his back surfing. It was the height of bee season and he couldn’t work so I offered to help with no prior experience with bees. I was a natural at it and fell in love with the bees and we’ve been working together ever since!
What do you love about beekeeping?
We love changing people’s minds about bees when they see us working to save and relocate them. We also just love seeing how bees work as a hive. They are fascinating and we are constantly learning something new from these cute little bugs. It’s also very challenging and they always keep us on our toes!
What are your favorite facts about bees?
That the hive isn’t controlled by the queen per-se but by the worker bees! They can recognize faces. A honeybee makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. They communicate with pheromones and “dancing”.
What lessons have you learned from bees that are helpful in other areas of your life?
Honeybees are not individualistic creatures. They work for the greater good of their hive and we also want to set that example.
What advice or tips do you have for people who want to help bees where they live?
Plant native flowers and wildflowers, don’t use pesticides and harsh chemicals, educate your friends and neighbors that bees can be safely relocated, and influence your local farms to diversify their crops so that they can steer away from the monocrop system that puts pressure on our pollinators.
What do you wish people knew about how bees impact the world around us?
Bees are a good indicator of how healthy our ecosystem is. Think of them like the canary in the coal mine. They don’t depend on us as much as our species depends on them.
Do you have any other thoughts about working together with Comvita to rescue bees?
We love that Comvita is actively educating and spreading positive information about our honeybees. Education is vital to saving our bees and we are excited about partnering.