Farming, Foodshed, Healdsburg, HomeFarm

On HomeFarm: Spring Has Sprung

While the calendar doesn’t have it slated until 3:45pm this Friday, spring has already spread out her finery at our HomeFarm in the Dry Creek Valley. With this exciting shift comes the usual flurry of work that farmers have been engaged in throughout the centuries. As do all who tend the Earth, we’re preparing for the growing season ahead, amending our soil with compost, pruning our trees and vines to do their best through harvest, and making sure there’s plenty of forage for the bees and chickens as they grow their hives and flocks. (more…)

Farming, Foodshed

Insects + Pollinators

Insects are so numerous that, with the number of known species approaching 900,000, they compose 80 percent of all life on Earth. Insects are so numerous that, for every single one pound of humans, there are 300 pounds of insects. Insects are so absolutely amazingly numerous that it’s estimated that there are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive at any given time. Like right this second.


Farming, HomeFarm

Bees: The Mammal with a Thousand Bodies

SHED co-founder Doug Lipton with a hive ready to swarm on HomeFarm; photo by Caitlin McCaffrey


You can hear them in the video before your eyes have a chance to understand what you're seeing. The hum is loud and unwavering, not melodic, but not unpleasant. It sounds warm.

And in fact, it is warm. Not the sound, but the mass of honeybees that the man is holding in his hands. Working with the bees just as they are about to swarm, he gently cups hundreds of them and, just as gently, shakes them from his hands, like sloughing delicate grains of sand onto the log he's suggesting they occupy. The phone recording this movement wobbles. "Oh. WOW," a woman says.

For holistic beekeeper Michael Thiele, moving a swarm of honeybees without smoke or fuss — with his bare hands — is not only a natural thing to do, it's the kind thing to do. The bees are ready for a new home, a reincarnation if you will, and he is merely their midwife.

Also called a "radical" beekeeper, Thiele owns Gaiabees and co-founded the Melissa Garden pollinator sanctuary in Healdsburg. He presents two workshops at HomeFarm Saturday-Sunday, April 26-27. Saturday is "Biodynamic Apiculture for Beginners"; Sunday, "Zen and the Art of Living with Bees."