Willow Bar farm
Since its inception in 2015, Willow Bar Farm has grown at a steady pace allowing farmers to lease and cultivate their land. Current partner Bee and Bloom is working to educate beekeepers and anyone who wants to learn more about pollinators. They also keep honey bees and produce honey and beeswax products. Fox and Bear is another partner who currently produces all of the vegetables on the property. Together they are working to create an area where pollinators can thrive.
Honey, kale, radishes, eggplant, melons, tomatoes, peppers, and several other vegetable varieties
Sauvie Island, Oregon
WHAT ARE THEY DOING FOR BEES?
Bee and Bloom is an educational group which specializes in promoting native bee conservation, sustainability, and better beekeeping practices. At the farm, they provide classes to those who wish to learn about honey bees and other native pollinators. Emma states, “We do a lot of ecotourism out here and have been using honey bees to get people interested in native bees. People can come here and suit up and get a close look at the hives, but we also include a presentation on bee diversity. And we supply them with resources on what they can plant and what they can do if they want to make a positive difference for pollinators.”
Other work they do at the farm includes planting a wide variety of flowers around the property as well as habitat restoration projects. With help from the East Multnomah Conservation District, they have installed a pollinator hedgerow as a buffer around the property. They also have a 5ft x 5ft test garden plot used to determine which native flowering plants survive in sandy, dry soil. They strive to create ample forage across the farm and have installed permanent solitary bee nesting domiciles for mason and leaf cutter bees.
Willow Bar Farm does not use any insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Instead they cover the beds prone to infestation, and they allow habitat for predatory biocontrol agents. By doing this, they help reduce one of the many stressors native bees endure. Other practices utilized to benefit pollinators include no-till farming. According to Rebekah, “When you start doing things by hand and get the machinery out of the way, you begin to notice more of what’s going on with the soil. And by extension, what’s going on with the bees. We’ve seen a lot of nesting bumble bees and mining bees as well as grass carrying wasps that have been utilizing our mason bee hotels.”
meet the farmers
Emily, Emma, and Rebekah founded Bee and Bloom in 2017. Each came from their own unique background. Having studied animal sciences and entomology at UC Davis, Emily has a diverse science background. At UC Davis she worked in the Systematics and Taxonomy department at the Bohart Insect Museum. She has been working on creating her own bee collection.
When it comes to bees, Emma took the road less traveled. Originally a musician by training, she became interested in honeybees while living in Oklahoma where she started as a beekeeper. Upon moving to Portland she began working as a manager of an apiary at a local bee company. Today she is now working as a beekeeper for Bee and Bloom.
Rebekah attended the University of Arizona where she studied ecology and evolutionary biology. Shortly after graduating, she began work as a research assistant at their bumble bee pollination lab. Upon moving to Oregon, she ran the education department at a Portland based bee company. Today she works for Bee and Bloom as an educator and beekeeper.