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Join Nicole and Dave, owner of Crown Bees, as they talk about supporting native bees in your backyard!
What You’ll Learn
- Why native bees are vital to the environment
- The difference between native bees and honey bees
- How to support and raise native bees
- The difference between native bee houses
Dave was the former Director of Real Estate for a Fortune 500 company, until the company he worked for closed its doors. They say when one door closes another opens, and Dave took the opportunity to found the Orchard Bee Association, and subsequently Crown Bees.
Dave is a passionate innovator of ethical products to support native bee health and a strong advocate of native bee education.
Resources & Links Mentioned
- Crown Bees Instagram
- Crown Bees Facebook
- Crown Bees YouTube
- Crown Bees Online
- Email us! Ask@HeritageAcresMarket.com
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Announcer: Welcome to the Backyard Bounty Podcast from heritageacresmarket.com where we talk about all things, backyard poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living and more. And now here's your host, Nicole.
Nicole: Hello everybody. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host, Nicole. And today I'm joined with Dave from Crown Bees and we're going to talk about native pollinators and the differences between natives and honey bees and how we can support our native pollinators the best. And Dave, thank you so much for joining me today.
Dave: This is going to be fun. Thanks, Nicole.
Nicole: Yeah, I'm looking forward to, I've been a fan of Crown Bees for several years now and I have several of your Native Bee Hotels. Yeah.
Dave: Okay. All right.
Nicole: It's been so fun to watch the natives. I get so much enjoyment of watching them. So I was really excited to record an episode with you today and to learn more and to educate others about natives because they're obviously a huge part of our culture and our ecosystem and they definitely are imperative. So, I'm very excited.
Dave: Good. Those are magical words. So many people think that when we hear bee, there's only one bee in the world. That's the honeybee. And I'm going to say that's true in research. That's true in just the casual person walking down the street. I think the times are changing. I think a long time ago people used to say, "look out there, there's a bunch of animals," and then finally someone said, "I think that's a cow," and then later on, I think they started naming the things, those were the big objects. I think they're getting down to bees, look, this is a bumblebee, this is a honeybee, this is a ground nester. I think more people are learning about smaller things and bees is the next on the block. So it is good to help people understand there are differences out there.
Nicole: Yeah. I feel like the honeybee is the poster child for most pollinators. When you say, save the bee, everybody thinks of the honeybee, but I think it's good, at least for awareness. But it's important to know that there is more than just the honey bee out there.
Dave: If I could just give you a little rundown of, what's the native bees someone was saying, they're honey bee, we get that, the hive, the honey, the queen, you can move them around, et cetera. So there's the honeybee, what we're touching with the bees of the world. First of all, Nicole, I've worked with researchers around the nation, around the world, on the native bee side. My company asks, why? To a lot of things that helps us figure out more of what we're doing. So that's my background.
Dave: So when we're talking about native bees, there's about 24000 species of bees in the world and there are seven honeybee species of those 24000. So it isn't... There's probably maybe more volume of the honeybees, but they're certainly far more species of other bees. That's part of it. When we look at those, even in the US there's about 4000 species of native bees, none of them make honey. There is no native honey making bee and so, Nicole, when did the honey bee show up?
Nicole: When we immigrated to the US.
Dave: Very good.
Nicole: Shortly after.
Dave: Shortly after. And because we needed something sweet. The pogroms or whoever they were. And there wasn't enough pollen. So what did they bring with them? The dandelion. Here we go. Because of the honeybee, we had the dandelions in our yard. It's okay. Just is, so now when you're looking at, let's say the 4000 species of native bees in North America, there's two kingdoms of them. One of them about the social case where everyone gets along together and there's a queen and there's drones and they're in a hive. And so that's bumblebee, honeybee. And you could say like your wasp nests outside, that's a social thing. That's 10% of the bees of the world. So just 400 of species. All the rest are solitary, where every single female is a queen and they all typically live maybe six weeks. And they come out, they're going to mate and they have their eggs are going to lay somehow and then they're dead after about six weeks. And the eggs they laid this year are next year's bees. Okay?
Nicole: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dave: Right? So care social. And then most of the bees nest in the ground, and we're going to call those ground nesters about three quarters. And so those are a lot of bumblebees in the ground. There's digger bees and minor bees and alkali bees and blah blah blah, there's a lot of bees. And then about 25 nest in available holes. So a paper tube, a broken Reed or holes in trees, that's it, social, solitary, ground nesters and hole nesters. Fair?
Nicole: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Fair. So they're all independent bees. They don't live in these big colonies like the honey bee.
Dave: And what were even, to go even a little further. So across the country. Every state has different species of bees in there. So the bees of South California are vastly different than the bees of Northern California or clearly Maine or Florida. So every region has different types of bees. And so some bees work well in the, climate, some bees work well in the early or late spring. So these bees, they come on at just different times of the year. And then, they have different characteristics which make them successful in Oklahoma. So there's a lot of bees out there.
Nicole: And with these bees still being pollinators, I believe I read somewhere that they actually pollinate like the fruit trees better than the honeybees. Is that correct?
Dave: Yeah , so when we're analyzing what happens with the pollen transfer, why is the Polynesian in the environment at all? Your plants, it's about sex, plant sex. Yes. There you go. Someone needs to move that pollen from point A to the point B, maybe it's in a different on the same plant or there's a male plant and a female plant. Okay, so someone's moving it, right? And the bees are best. Butterflies are there and moths are there. Ants and beetles spread pollen. But really bees are the best. Okay. The honeybee is so sophisticated. It's got, I think 1500 eggs are laid a day, maybe 1000, 1500 hundred is that about right?
Nicole: Yeah, I've read different numbers but that's the rough average.
Dave: A lot, okay? And so that's, you think about then that's thousand little mounds of pollen and about the size of a pencil eraser a day are needed. And so the honeybee has evolved to get an awful lot of pollen back to the hive and so sticky on the hind legs. The bees are very sophisticated and they've evolved. They get the pollen in the flower and then it is wet with saliva and back on the Highlands. And a few years ago I spoke with dr Musson from UC Davis so Dave, that's bee food, that's not pollen. Okay. The honeybees are great pollen takers and nice little words. Scientists call them pollen pigs. Okay, because they're really good gathering pollen. All right, so your natives, far less sophisticated. They don't need that much pollen in a day. And so you'll find the bees will belly flop into a flower and they're carrying, they're trying to crab a cram the pollen in their hairy bodies and it's belly flop on their cram the pollen, next flower belly flop. And this dry pollen just fallen off everywhere.
Dave: And so these guys, the native bees are really unsophisticated bees, but they are pollen spreaders as my company works with backyard gardeners to farmers, people when they're starting to use these, native bees are finding there's more food in their yards. And so science has said, gosh, since the 80s, when you put mason bees on cherry fields, you're getting triple the yield. A couple of years ago Old Dominion came out with a study on, on strawberries. When you put the mason bee on strawberries 1.5 times the yield. So they gather pollen differently. And for I guess different reasons, everyone is grabbing the pollen so that they can put it into a spot and they're going to lay an egg and that egg is going to use that pollen to become a larva and develop into a bee. There's your whole pollen reason.
Nicole: Okay. So I see sometimes on some of the gardening groups that I'm in that people will post that they are interested in becoming a beekeeper because they're interested in having a higher yield in their garden and better pollination and whatnot, but they don't really care about the honey or they're concerned about getting stung. So this could maybe be an option for people like that?
Dave: Oh, get out. Yes. And actually that little, that point right there Nicole, in a social bee, everything is kind of protect the queen, protect the eggs, protect the honey. Okay? So get close to hive. And I think if you kicked your hive, you're going to get stung, right?
Dave: Don't do that. Okay. So with the less sophisticated bees since on the... When they're solitary, the queen that is laying eggs in... She's chosen her own little paper tube or reed, it's hers, she's gathering the pollen and nectar lays an egg and then seals that chamber. And so she's doing all of this in the yard. She can't sit there and defend the hole and also do all those other things. So they just don't defend the hole. And as a result, the venom in these native solitary bees is typically super low. More of a mosquito bite, you can get stung.
Dave: These are bees with a stinger. The only way really to get stung is, I've grabbed one in my hand and squished it and it lets me know, don't squish me. But it's really hard to find where the bee stung you and it doesn't itch or anything just to a little different flavor. Yes. As a result, these bees are easier for people to raise because there's probably no fear of being stung. And also they're super lower maintenance. How much does it take... How many hours a month would you say you put into your hives?
Nicole: Well, I use a little bit different technique than some, where I just let them do their thing. I don't like to bother them because they don't really like it. So I pretty much only check them a couple times a year. And most of the time I just observe from afar.
Dave: I bet that works well. Are they more healthier do you think or?
Nicole: I think so. I mean, after you open up the hive, it usually takes them a couple weeks to recover. So I've found that the less I mess with them, the happier they are. Well, I don't know if they're happy, I don't get a chance to ask them, but certainly they don't have the stress of me digging around in their hive and they seem to produce better and to be more calm when I'm out in the yard.
Dave: So those that are more than, let's say that's going to be on the soft side of things, the average honey bee person is in there checking, putting folic acid, looking for crowd I guess?
Nicole: So again, there's different thought processes. Some people use different techniques. But I would say during the swarm season, which is in our area from about May, June ish until August ish, some people recommend that you check your hive every two weeks, first swarm cells. And then otherwise most people probably check them once every month to six weeks.
Dave: Okay. So on the native bee side when we're talking about Mason bees or leafcutter bees, it's about maybe total of a half an hour, maybe a year to manage these things. You've got bees in the spring that you're going to go put out. So you've walked outside with your mason bee house and you place it on a wall. So maybe there's 10 minutes and then you have cocoons in your hands. And these are live bees in cocoons that they're, can't even see, it looks like little raisins. So there's five minutes to go put your cocoons out and then really all summer long, you're just kind of, when they're active, they're active for six weeks. So you're watching them nest. And then really in the fall we're asking that people learn to manage a little bit.
Dave: There's pests in there and we're giving it throw 15 to 20 minutes at you in the fall just to, we call it harvesting, where you're opening these holes and you're looking for pes and cocoons and you're just holding cocoons in your hand at the end. So there's probably half an hour, I mean, low-key, but we are managing.
Nicole: So slightly less time involvement.
Dave: Yes, and much more dental but sounds like a lot what I just said there, but we teach, my company has a thing called bee mail. Once a month, we just say, hey, do this. It's May, this is exactly what you should do. It's the fall. Here's specifically how you harvest, here's some videos. And so we help people think through the learning curve so that it's... We want people successful.
Nicole: So with crown bees specifically, you mentioned the leaf cutters and the masons. Is that pretty much the two that you mostly involve yourself with?
Dave: Yes, that's a great question. We focus... My company Crown Bees is a... I call it a food company masquerading as a bee company. So when you use these bees, you get more food. That's our premise. I can't take, most bees nest in the ground, I can't take a shovel full of dirt and just hope that I've got bees in there without killing them, you know. So moving in from my yard to your farm, I can though take a handful of reads or paper tubes from my yard and the hand them to your farm and now there are bees in your yard. So I mean, we focus on that type of a bee that we can move. So when I said mason bee or leafcutter bee, the mason bee, I just said dog. Oh my gosh, there's 100s of species of dogs and there's 100s species of Mason bees and leafcutter bees, a little different, they both use a hole, but there's multiple types of leafcutter bees and they're just... Depends of where you are in the country. There's different types of these bees.
Nicole: So if I wanted to get native bees, can I get both of them or is, can I only get one or the other?
Dave: Okay, good question. As we see that the bees are active at different times of the year, there are some bees, the the blue orchid, it's one of the Mason bees that we sell comes out right in the beginning of spring when the dandelions show up and about six weeks later it's gone. There are other bees, then the can show up in late May. The leafcutter bees are shown up maybe more in June through August. And so there are different species that are there at different times. So if you wanted bees in your yard, and we sell bees, so if you're looking for spring things, I can send you bees in February through April. So I said almonds and cherries all the way into blueberry season. And then after they were nesting all the bees are going from April all the way into late May, early June. So that might be even to raspberries.
Dave: And so people are able to say, gosh, I really care about my raspberries, so I'm going to send them bees that will emerge in late April that can then work into the raspberries. And so then we also have a leafcutter bees. You just tell us when, and we'll send you bees from May all the way into early September, whether you're doing pumpkin's or you're pollinating flowers or beans or something. So we have the bees flying at different times of the year.
Nicole: So that's the main difference between the leafcutter and the mason is just the time of year that they're out.
Dave: I think that's fair. And even if a scientists were out there vetting this conversation, Dave, I think there's some spring leafcutter bees out there as well as like, yeah, we don't have them, but yes, there are.
Dave: Yes. Okay. So I simplified it to the bees that I have. But yeah, in honesty, I think there's a variety. Oh my gosh, there's tiny, Nicole, I'm sure you've done this, you go to your yard and you've got some bushes just full of flowers. And to sit there for 15 minutes and just see if I can count the species. Here's a bumblebee with a yellow Stripe or a bumblebee with an orange Stripe. Well, here's just bitsy, what is that thing? And it's just microscopic bee and then honeybees and it's just, it's really fun. And so to learn that you can raise some of these yourself, it's fun. It's a good hobby. And people then are trying to get food as well.
Nicole: And this year I planted some of the lemon queen sunflowers and I had heard they were really good for pollinators and I hadn't planted them before and it was so fun. I would just go out there and I always took my phone and I'll swear every time I went out there there was a different species of native bee. And I don't know even what a lot of them were, but it was so fun to watch them.
Dave: Oh, okay. So that last for comment, I've worked with some of the major text ominous one who identifies bees out there, and I've sent pictures of this, Dave it's a bee. there's 4000 species. I know you know 10 of them by heart, but you know it's like, Oh, okay. There's so many bees. It's not that easy to define them yet.
Nicole: Yeah. so when you're talking about a native bee house, what does that look like?
Dave: Actually, it's not that hard to picture. The bees are nesting in holes. Picture a straw and about maybe a pencil size diameters the big size and go a little down to maybe like an eighth of an inch. There are tiny little bees that use four millimeter holes and bees will use an eight millimeter. Okay, so there's a big size difference. These holes brought maybe six inches long, five, six, seven inches long. And the bees are just going to nest in there natively. They're going into broken reeds in a yard. Okay?
Nicole: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dave: So these holes are put together a little pile, put my hands together into about a circle and put into a house. It keeps the holes dry. So really house and holes are really all the bees are looking for. I think there's some products out there nowadays that have hine cones and they're trying to think through butterfly, little thingy and mostly those don't work. The pine cones, I don't want earwigs next to my bees, so I'm not going to put pine cones there. And there's these cute little contraptions, it's like a slit. There's a hole behind her. It's like a slit. Have you seen those at all? For butterflies to use?
Nicole: Oh, I guess I probably have.
Dave: Yeah, from talking with the butterfly experts, they say, gosh, Dave, those are just holes for wasp to go build their nests. Yeah. Butterflies don't use those I was like, Oh well, okay, so your masonry house is really are varied holes, varied size holes in a house and you're putting this house in your yard someplace. Facing morning sun, about head height. If I were short, I might put it at four or so feet. If I was tall I might've put it at six feet just so I could stand back and watch them. They're just so entertaining. So really oh, house and place where there's pollen and maybe not a lot of wind, but good morning sun.
Nicole: So these are... The native bee houses are like the... I've seen them at the garden store they're kind of the birdhouse looking thing, but there's the-
Dave: With the front missing.
Nicole: Yeah the holes and then blocks with holes in them too.
Dave: Yeah. One of the things we're trying to help educate people on, there's a lot of bad designs. People are out there making money, they just are. And so drilled blocks of wood, bamboo, the bees will use these things, bamboo, reeds and drilled blocks of holes. But what we're also finding when you put so many holes in one area, so I've got a handful of holes, there are pests that move in there as well. And nature normally has these holes far apart in trees. And so pests can't get to all holes at the same time. When you aggregate them, it is, beetles are in there and pollen mites and all crap, okay, so that's natural. But if you don't do anything about it quickly, the following year, the bees have emerged. They've lived in the holes of these. Eggs were laid, it became larva, the larva spun cocoons, the overwintered as bees. And as they emerge, to go do these things again, but they've got pests with them in those same holes.
Dave: So out they go, all the bees all have emerged and the pest are just sitting in there in the holes waiting. Some brand new female comes in and chooses that hole with the pest in there and begins laying in them, here's the pollen, here's the egg and she's just feeding the pest. So when you use these cheap bamboo holes that can't be opened, you're really just dooming the future bees to, you're just feeding pests. So not all houses are the same, but yes, you do find them at nurseries. And I'm saying when your listeners are out there getting these things, make sure the holes can be opened up, and make sure they're about maybe pencil size and smaller. You'll find there's a lot of different stuff out there and they don't know what they're doing.
Nicole: And when you say that the holes can be opened, I'm not sure what you mean by that.
Dave: Take a reed and I'm going to just crimp the end and pull it apart. And now I've actually got two halves of a reed and down this open half I find cocoons and pests in a paper tube I'm able to unwind them. Think of like the pop and fresh croissants years ago. You can unwind these paper tubes and now you have cocoons and we have would trays that when I open these trays, I have like a bunch of half holes in them, put two trays together. Now they make complete holes. So when I open them up, now I've got eight half holes on one side, eight half holes on the other side. So I have exposed the cocoons to the air. And so if I can't do that and separate the bad guys from the good guys, then it is nature. And when you've aggregated all bees in one little place, we just doom the future bees to... We didn't know any better. That's okay. I mean it just is.
Nicole: Sure. So if I get a little bee house and I get bee cocoons, how do I ensure that the bees that hatch from the cocoon are going to hang around and use my bee house?
Dave: That's a very valid question. When we mail you bees or cocoons, the bees are looking for three things typically. They're looking for holes of the right size. They're looking for pollen in the yard, and then the third little piece each bee needs is something that helps her secure her holes. So in this hole, she goes back there and she gathers pollen about 30 trips where the pollen and nectar gathering makes us little eraser size mound of pollen. She backs in and lays an egg, looks like a little grain of rice, and then she seals that chamber to protect that egg. And some mason bees use mud. We saw those other bees use tree resin or chewed up leaf bits or the fuzz from flowers. I mean there's just a variety of things that bees in different parts of the country. If you're in the desert, bees are using cactus pole, pollen, egg, cactus pole. That's what they're doing in there.
Nicole: Well that's good. How do we make sure that they keep doing that and that they don't take off?
Dave: They're looking for those three things. We have an attractant that you can spray. We call it invite the bee. There's a pheromone that smells like bees have nested there beforehand and that helps. But in general, we're laying the cocoons that you've bought, behind the holes, the bees, as they emerge at their own little time, it's warm enough for them. They're going to chew out of their cocoon, walk down on top of the holes. And then some of them just, boof off they go to find a new place. Most of them do like a figure eight where'd I come from? They fly around and then they're going to mate and they just typically hang there. And so most people that when they're trying to get the bees that we saw, most of the people are successful. A couple of bees nested, the following year, a lot more bees nest. And then ultimately, gosh, we have people across the country, they are so successful, they have so many mason bees, they nail their extra bee cocoons to us in the fall.
Dave: And so we call this the bee buy back and we're... Around the country people are saying there's hundreds of thousands of bees. Like, I'll get bees from Pennsylvania. They come back to us here in Washington state. We clean them up, put them in a little Pennsylvania bin, and then as people in Pennsylvania, who want bees, we're sending those bees back to them. So we're trying to be as ethical as we can to keep the bees disease spread down and the bees are acclimated to those areas. So we think about it. And in general they do well.
Nicole: Is there anywhere that people wouldn't be able to use these bees?
Dave: Yes, the blue orchard bee, it's very common. Clay, mud using bee. It's found in every province, every state, but right along the Gulf of Mexico. So Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, no, those bees don't go well there. The leafcutter bees do. We do have people looking for bees for us in these States. And there are Florida bees that nest in holes and we've got people just put in holes out for us to see which bee comes in, uses them. And then ultimately we'll have a lot of Florida bees understood and used in Florida firms and backyards.
Nicole: So do you have any other tips for success if somebody wanted to start raising native bees in their yard this spring?
Dave: Yes. I'm always thinking things through from the bees perspective, not my perspective. Okay. So we've talked about having nice little holes and place them on a morning typically Eastern-Southeastern wall, that's easy. And the bees are looking for pollen. And typically your natives, at least the ones don't travel that far, maybe a 300 foot radius, 100 meter radius say a six acres, two or so hectares. So the pollen in that large area is really all you need. I wouldn't really plant too many plants, so pollen holes and then I'd be very careful with chemicals. We've learned that lawn treatment has a lot of toxic crud in it that has your bees typically fly away and a frustration is your neighbor or two neighbors away that down when plume of toxic smells have your bees flying someplace else. And so as frustrating as it is when people get bees, we a lot of times will say, ask your neighbors to just not treat their lawns, stop spraying just for a little bit. Some really a clean, healthy yard, pollen and holes about it and tell your neighbors.
Nicole: So I live in a pretty suburban area. So naturally when I think of anything that's what I think of, but would the native bees, would there be enough pollen for them to survive in an urban environment?
Dave: Yeah. So I think an urban environment, it has more pollen load. I mean give or take has more pollen load. There's more, people love flowers, people that are growing things. Dandelions are left. A six acre radius is really big. And I think most people give or take just an asphalt jungle. I think there's, most people are successful that the bees are able to find what they need. I think when you throw the stress of a honeybee in an urban environment, I think it becomes a little harder for native bees to find their pollen. And it depends upon the neighborhood, if you've got a flower rich area, then I think no big deals, but it's maybe you're more sparse a San Diego type environment would maybe not be helpful to have both bees present.
Nicole: We've established that we can use, native bees in pretty much any environment, urban and otherwise. But what about, I see a bunch of things, the commercial beekeepers will send their hives to the almond fields to pollinate those. Is there any way that people can utilize the natives to use in that agricultural setting?
Dave: I'm going to give you a sticky answer. Yeah, we find, and I'm going to step on a lot of toes out here and your listeners. We find that farmers tend to change at the speed of a glacier. Okay? And I think a farmer is... She is so busy with so many variables, the price of crop and people are going to take in and are going to sell it and pests etc. They don't have time to introduce a new variable. So the science has been there. When you put mason bees on cherries, you're getting triple the yield. All right? That's there in the 80s. But a peer of mine a couple of seasons ago spoke to 600 cherry farmers on Eastern Washington, she said, "gosh, you guys out of this audience here, how many people raise your hands? How many people have heard about mason bees?" And about 15 hands rose out of 600. Okay, so maybe 30 people just, 15 people didn't raise their hands.
Dave: But you look at that science showed that when you're put in mason bees on strawberries, you're getting, one and a half times the yield and the strawberries come soon. But no, almost no strawberry farmers use mason bees. And so I reached out to the president of the North American strawberry association out in Canada. Hey, here's a stage. You guys see it? Yeah. Did you let your farmers know about this? Yeah, we put a little link in our newsletter said, so how come? No one. And I'm the biggest company out there. How come? No one is reaching out and putting, bees on strawberries. And the guy says, well, strawberries don't need pollinators. I said, well, but science shows they're getting one half...
Dave: He goes, "that's just science," okay but who this person was, he's an administrator. He's not necessarily a farmer, but that just says, when you got both those situations, we find that it's hard to change. We're asking researchers to work with us to learn how do we increase the yield of kiwis and onion seeds? We want all this research done because we think we can actually get more food. But that's only half the issue. The other half is how do you get the farmer, the grower, to actually consider using something other than a honeybee? Even if you get more yield. And even if it's in science, why would they change? I think at this time the people that would listen are the millennials because they're coming into something new and they're willing to learn. And I also think the older people that have left their big girl or big boy job are now going to be a farmer. I think they would ask questions.
Nicole: Would you say that compared to the honeybee and bringing in, for example, the hives during almond season, would you say that the native bees are financially and logistically feasible in comparison?
Dave: That's an interesting question. You're so full of them, Nicole. It's a great question. In this infancy of the mason bee environment, the bees are kind of expensive and it's in the almond industry you'll get probably 25% more yield and the bees are probably a less than the cost of a honey beehive. Because the almonds need so many hives, a bounce out into the cherries and the peaches and stuff. I think the price of Mason bees is higher today when you're just buying the bee and that's all the farmers thinking about it. If the farmer's looking at the net yield, the price of the bee is insignificant. I have gardeners complaining about too much plums under trees and they're propping the branches up with boards.You get so much more yield with a pollen spreading bee, but up front the cost is... It's a little bit of money.
Nicole: Well, I assume that there's more sustainability though, whereas if you rent a honeybee hive, you have to rent it every year. But if you set up homes for the natives and maybe you purchase the cocoons from you guys for a couple of years, but after a while you would build the population and then they would be somewhat self-sufficient?
Dave: That's our wand. That's exactly our wand. Sometimes in the farming environment the conventional farmers are spraying a lot. And so the... We sold you a thousand cocoons for your acre and maybe you only got 400 or 500 cocoons back maybe on a good year, might've gotten maybe 800 back. But it's, the chemical environment tends to weigh heavily on natives. And so I think as we humanity migrate away from the toxic crowd we're putting out there, I think we'll see better returns. But today our environments even organic, it sounds like you're putting, you're still spraying, you're putting organic crowd out there. I think, yes, the backyard gardener a lot differently. Typically, most gardeners wind up getting more and more every year.
Nicole: Yeah. I think that that's certainly something to consider for a food producer at any level.
Dave: It's frustrating. We have seen research show that around the world when you have wild bees and I was in the audience when the researcher said this, he goes and not the honeybee. When you find wild bees in a farm, 25% more yield. Okay? But that statements, it's just a, it is a statement to the wind and I think it's going to change, I think an end scenario where you have both honeybee and wild bees would be a biodiverse environment and preferable, honeybees is kinds of easy, native bees not always so. So let's do both.
Nicole: Sure. So you've mentioned that you guys work with researchers and in different things. What other projects do you guys have going on?
Dave: We've got multiple channels. So my company's a very innovative small company out here in the Seattle area, product development where we have things online, crombies.com you can buy out there. We have things in nurseries. There you go. We're starting to talk with farmers. And so we have products in, bees and things in some farms. Our biggest program, and it's a big one. It's a scary one. We think out of the 4000 species of bees in North America, let's say a thousand nest and holes, they're out there, but they're dwindling. A lot of what we're doing is helping them go away. And my company is trying to reverse this. And so we've got this program called the native enetwork, you'll see it on our website under programs and we're asking, gosh, for rich kids and conservation districts, master gardener networks for people to put out holes, small, medium and large. We've got them, register your site on our, we have a big database out there, just register on your smartphone and then we'll give you some guidance, in the spring do this, in the fall do that.
Dave: And our intent is in this big discovery phase, let's find out what nested phase two is, five years from now, let's go analyze him with universities out there and see how do we work with the bees, from the bees' perspective. Phase three, let's go raise a bunch of them. Phase four, and I'm maybe saying 20 years from now, 15 years from now, let's go put these bees back where they belong. Wild space, farm and yard. So that's, it takes a lot of energy right there trying to adjust muscle through this and it's just getting headway. We feel comfortable that it's going.
Dave: The last little piece we're asking, we're working with researchers. I'm tomorrow actually meeting with Washington state university personnel. What research could be done that would benefit a farmer, the grower. So I'm a more of a ecologist, so I'm probably focusing more on the organic farms and that kind of fun. Those things. And then probably wrapping ourselves all of that. Gosh, Nicole, my company teaches, we have everything we know of out there for free. We have a thing called BeeMail once a month do this. Our website shows you what to do, how to do, why to do, what the pests are real intuitively laid out. We are trying to work... All these, we're just trying to teach so that we get more bees out of it. So that's my company.
Nicole: Well, I think that's a really wonderful philosophy.
Dave: Yeah. And every now and then at perk I get to be on some really cool podcasts.
Nicole: Those are the best perks.
Dave: Those are the perks. More people listening to what word nerdy people are thinking about.
Nicole: Of course.
Dave: So if I could summarize my position, I would hope that your listeners realize there's a lot of species of bees out there. One cool one makes honey and then there are gentle bees that nest in holes. They're easy to raise. My company teaches you what to do. And then the third little piece, and I'm asking you to... Whoever you are, listen carefully. Go look up the native bee network. It's a big deal. And it should be bigger than the US, it should be a worldwide piece. The food making bees are being ignored for the honeybee. Okay in 11 words and an added an expense of food. And just go look at that and pass that knowledge. Whatever you learn there to your friends. That's it. I mean, so there's your summary. Fair enough?
Nicole: Fair enough. So if somebody after listening to this episode was inspired to start a native bee colony of their own, how can they get access to your products and your information and your guidance?
Dave: Go on the internet. Crown, C-R-O-W-N, bees B-E-E-S .com. So while you're there, you'll find under the menu tab, you're going to see there's a shop. So we have products and we teach you, there's stuff for beginning and here's, the more experienced. So that's all in the shop section. As you float around, you'll see there's a learn section. And we teach you the ins and outs of the mason bees and the leafcutter bees and the wild bees. And there's that.
Dave: You'll see programs, we work with community gardens, we work with the native bee network, bee buy back, we have the bees from Pennsylvania back here this month, here we're talking in October. And then while you're there, at the very bottom of every page, there's a little thing says sign up for BeeMail just do that. It's just my team once a month saying, hey, "do this," I guess that would be it. We've got books, there's a book out there, The Mason Revolution, I wrote that, that's on our website. But in general I think you'll find it, and we're in war nurseries at some point. We might be in Costco and home Depot and that's a few years from now. But you'll find us on the website.
Nicole: Wonderful. Yeah, I know. I subscribed to your newsletter and that's really helped me support my native bee house because sometimes there are things you need to do and time gets away from you. And the next thing you know you get an emailed and you're like, oh yeah, I need to go do this.
Dave: And it's not that bad is it?
Nicole: No, it's really not. It's not.
Dave: Okay. And we do say like we've got this stuff for sale but we are a for profit company but we try to teach.
Nicole: Sure, absolutely. Yeah. They've been definitely very helpful.
Dave: That's good feedback, thanks, Nicole.
Nicole: Of course. Awesome. Well Dave, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your wonderful knowledge of natives and I hope that this has inspired others to consider them and maybe given listeners a little bit more confidence and interest in putting a native house in their yard.
Dave: That's awesome. Yes, and I appreciate it. And this was... As I floated through your website, you've so much good knowledge there, Nicole.
Nicole: Oh thank you.
Dave: Whoever else is listening. She has a lot of really neat stuff there. Just don't listen, go read. Thanks for doing what you're doing, Nicole. This is always so important to teach people that are busy and then go someplace and learn something easy and apply that one or two things. It's all we could ask.
Dave: Thanks for having me.
Nicole: Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Dave.
Nicole: Bye. And for those of you at home, thank you so much for listening to Backyard Bounty and we'll see you again next week.
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