Beekeepers To Know


Emilie Bonder

Owner of Santa Cruz Bee Company.


Melanie Kirby

Melanie is the cofounder of Zia QueenBees. Melanie Kirby (Tortugas Pueblo) Melanie Kirby never set out to be a beekeeper. She always figured she’d finish college, leave Santa Fe, and do a stint in the Peace Corps like her parents, then hit San Francisco to pursue her dream of becoming a DJ. But the Corps sent her to Paraguay to be an apiarist. Captivated by the innovation and wisdom of the farmers she worked with, Kirby committed herself to learning from them. The experience deepened a belief that Indigenous perspectives are not antiquated, but essential to preserving the land and navigating a changing climate. That perspective informs everything Kirby has done since founding Zia QueenBees in 2005. Beyond providing sustainable beekeeping supplies, Kirby works with the Institute of American Indian Arts to quantify farmers’ observations and hold the door open for future generations on a quest for consilience between art and science. She also is facilitating discussions between apiarists, state agricultural officials, and lawmakers to amplify regenerative land practices. When she isn’t doing that, Kirby is developing programming to teach Indigenous youth about traditional ecological knowledge, and preparing to pursue a doctoral degree.


Julia Mahood

Consider a mother of two young boys, afraid of “bugs” for most of her life, who becomes a honey bee drone lover. Taking a beekeeping course on a whim in 2007, Julia Mahood fits this uncommon profile. And if that isn’t enough she’s a graphic artist who appears to be on track to also become a published scientist and an able pilot of another kind of drone, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Julia concludes, “something about these often disparaged boy bees sparked an interested that has only grown over the years.” More here.

Julia is the creator of Map My DCA, the Drone Congretion Area Mapping Project.

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