All About the Bees

Umpqua Valley association supports tiny, interesting creatures.

Adrian Aramburu, left, and Ivory Los Banos check the condition of honey bees in a hive in Adrian’s backyard.

The hobby is sticky but sweet— just a small part of the fun for Umpqua Valley Beekeepers Association’s 60 members.

“I find the bees fascinating,” says Adrian Aramburu, who lives north of Lookingglass. “I could sit there and watch them all day long. Bees are interesting creatures. I want to do my part to help them. And I love honey.”

Adrian is a 5-year member of the beekeepers association and the group president. He maintains three beehives at his home.

Ivory Los Banos, the association’s vice president and a past president, is a founding member of the group. She and Phil Moulton began organizing the association in 2014, filing paperwork to become an affiliate of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association that year and filing for nonprofit status in 2015.

Ivory admits she’s not a big honey lover, calling the sticky liquid “too rich for me,” but she works with the bees to help them maintain a strong population. She has 11 hives split between her Roseburg home and the Umpqua area.

Kelly Heard is the association’s treasurer, and Kim Kinney is the secretary. “We’re a group of backyard beekeepers,” Ivory says.

Some members collect honey from their bees for personal use, some sell bottled honey, some sell beekeeping items, and some just want to support bees and beekeepers.

The association meets at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at the Oregon State University Extension Service Office, 1134Southeast Douglas Avenue, Roseburg. The meetings are open to the public.

“Anybody who wants to learn about honeybees is welcome to come in, meet some people, ask some questions, and figure out what direction they want to go with bees,” Adrian says. “Some people just come to the meetings to support the club. They believe in what we’re doing for the bees.”

Paid members of the association have free access to swarm and removal lists, beekeeper academy sessions, a beekeeping library, mentorships, and field trips. The cost is $20 a year.

“It’s a community where you can talk and ask questions,” Ivory says.

The end result is an abundance of honey and honeycomb.

Someone interested in beekeeping can get started by buying bees, or they can collect a swarm of bees or a removal of bees and relocate them to personal hives. Association members average about 40 swarm collections a year between March and July. “Swarms are usually docile,” Adrian says. “They are just bees looking for a new home.”

Members conduct about 20 hive removals a year, collecting the bees from outside structures, such as barns and sheds, or from the inside of older walls.

Adrian and Ivory agree that starting a hive with a local swarm or removal is best because those bees are already acclimated to the area, compared to buying bees from elsewhere.

Bees are hard at work, filling a frame with honey.

The association maintains an educational booth at several annual events with glassenclosed active bee hives: Home and Garden Show in Roseburg in February, Glide Wildflower Show in Glide in April, Master Garden Plant Sale in Roseburg in May, Blooms and Butterfly Festival in Elkton in June, Growing Miracles Lavender Festival in Garden Valley in July, Douglas County Fair in Roseburg in August and Douglas County Ag Days in Roseburg in October.

“Watching the kids looking at the bees is the best part,” Ivory says. “They’re very entranced by the bees.” “There’s an endless line of questions,” Adrian adds.

Adrian says the association is looking into taking some hives into local classrooms to help children better understand the role of honeybees.

He and Ivory admit that working with the bees can sometimes be a stinging situation. Despite wearing safety suits from head to toe, the two have suffered some stings from bees who aren’t too happy with being moved or having their honey removed. “I’ve learned, and I know better, so I don’t get stung as much as when I started,” Ivory says.

Honey is harvested from the hives in spring or late summer. That pure, local sweetness is then ready to sweeten a cup of tea, replace sugar in a recipe or just be licked off a fingertip.