June 29, 2010

Listen to this interview re-play ~ Thursday, July 1st at 9am and Friday July 2nd at 4pm from 96.9fm – around Penn Cove or stream it anywhere on the island or in the world from the KWPA website.

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Colorful hives at Golden Harvest Bee Ranch

Tom Schioler & Golden Harvest Bee Ranch

Continues KWPA’s Whidbey Chat Farm Tour


On the heels of the Slow Food Whidbey Island event, two days ago at Greenbank Farm, talking with a beekeeper about pollinating orchards and crops was apropos to continue Gwen’s foodie direction of the week, and the Whidbey Chat Farm Tour on KWPA radio.

Tom Schioler prepares to calm his bees with smoke so he can work on the hives - photo GS

Tom Schioler of Golden Harvest Bee Ranch came down to KWPA’s wharf  studio to talk with Gwen about beekeeping, honey, the bizarre biology of bees and some suggestions, directed at Island County leaders, on bee pollinating policy.  Political bee concerns aren’t something we’ve heard much about lately; unless you want to include the stinging effect the banking crisis and bail out continue to have on all of us.  But, government  policy that effect bees and pollination are just the kind of thing a beekeeper like Tom thinks about, as he tends his commercial pollinating hives, on Ebey’s prairie.

Tom recently moved his home and bee operation to the prairie, and says with the shortage of pollinators in the area, his farming neighbors have been very glad to see him.  Now getting unpacked and settled on the new “ranch” Tom is ramped up to grow his hives, local services and product lines.  He say’s he can step up his operation if he can add one more apprentice to the one he has now.  Hives weigh 45 lbs – let it be known, to anyone who may want to apply.  And like Georgie Smith of Willowood Farm who uses intern worker’s on her farm, Tom says he can only survive with bartered and stipend arrangements for the apprenticeship labor he uses to get the job done.  Both make every effort to not go broke, and therefore out of business, in the business of organic agriculture.  A business they both love.

Tom's apprentice, Cameron, cleans hive trays. Photo GS

Speaking on the shortage of bees in our country, and the widely known colony collapse disorder, that has devistated 10’s of thousands of hives, Tom discussed how he keeps his hives safe, and the preventative measures he takes to insure his bees are healthy and ready to pollinate.   Saying CCD causes are not fully understood, Tom assured listener’s the disorder is being vigorously funded and studied worldwide. Healthy bees and pollination are so important in our national food growth that apiary science is a full-time and multi million dollar business in our country.  Tom Schiloer knows that business; is following the science and sticking it out through the epidemic with successful organic measures for his well kept hives.

Tom and Honey at the Market - Photo Kathy Schultz - NWSource

As far as honey goes; that tasty treat, the antibiotic , cosmetic and health food, it’s mostly made for us.  Tom says “honey is an emergency food for the bee’s; nectar and pollen are their real food.”  Hence, thanks to the bee’s preferred menu, Tom can be found selling honey at numerous Farmer’s Markets in and around the island and Puget Sound.

Who knew that bees smell with their feet?  You may have some slight memory of knowing that, from a class room, book or science show somewhere.   But, like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Tom Schioler provided listeners with the science of bees on KWPA’s Whidbey Chat’s Farm Tour, in language you can understand.

NOTE: After the show – Gwen went out to take some pictures of Tom’s ranch and was stung by a bee.  She now swears by his remedy.  Listen in to find out what remedy that is.

Listen to this interview’s re-play on Thursday, July 1st at 9am and Friday July 2nd at 4pm from 96.9fm – around Penn Cove or stream it anywhere on the island or in the world from the KWPA website.

Tom Schioler lifts out the trays from the interior of the hive. Photo GS


This hive is too crowded. Tom will prepare and new hive, introduce a queen and spilt this hive.


This hive has the proper population of bees

Where just some of the magic happens at Golden Harvest Bee Ranch. The sparkles are drops of nectar.


Tom and Cameron load hives, headed for Raspberry pollinating, onto the Golden Harvest Bee Ranch truck. LUCKY US!