The Fund For Santa Barbara Grant Award

The Fund for Santa Barbara Awards $4,000 Grant to Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association


Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association president Jim Rice, left, and director Archie Mitchell attend The Fund for Santa Barbara’s annual Grant Awards Party.

Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association president Jim Rice, left, and director Archie Mitchell attend The Fund for Santa Barbara’s annual Grant Awards Party. (Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association photo)

By Kate Griffith for the Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association | Published on 12.18.2014 8:40 a.m.

The Fund for Santa Barbara has awarded a $4,000 grant to the Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association.

On Dec. 3, LVBA president Jim Rice and director Archie Mitchell attended The Fund’s annual Grant Awards Party at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center in Santa Barbara, where Mitchell spoke about LVBA and the association’s proposed projects for 2015.

With grant funds, the Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association seeks to purchase observation hives and package bees for outreach to local schools and Boys and Girls Clubs, to purchase books and videos to establish a library, to host special events, to distribute a newsletter and flyers, to maintain a website and to purchase supplies necessary to maintain honeybees in the Lompoc Bird, Butterfly and Bee sanctuary.

Mitchell blazed the trail in creating a beekeepers association in Lompoc and in teaching beekeeping courses at Allan Hancock College. He wrote The Fund grant proposal seeking to provide environmental justice for honeybees and native pollinators.

“Honeybees and native pollinators are declining globally,” Mitchelle said. “[T]here is justifiable concern that without more activism, the majority of citizens will sit back and watch while our food supplies are threatened by the steady decline of pollinators.”

Mitchell also seeks to change the bee ordinance in Lompoc.

The Fund for Santa Barbara is a nonprofit community foundation that supports organizations working for social, economic, environmental & political change in Santa Barbara County. This includes grassroots organizing against discrimination of all kinds, supporting the rights & dignity of working people, promoting community self-determination, organizing for peace and nonviolence, working to improve the quality of our environment, and building cross-issue/cross-constituency coalitions and alliances. The Fund raises money through donations of all sizes in order to provide grants and technical assistance. Since its founding in 1980, The Fund has awarded more than $5 million to over 900 projects. Click here to learn more.

The Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association seeks the promotion and advancement of beekeeping through best management practices, the education and mentoring of people about honey bees and beekeeping and increasing public awareness of environmental concerns affecting honey bees. LVBKA meetings are held monthly at Flying Goat Cellars Tasting Room in Lompoc. The association is involved in community education programs, swarm removal and mentoring new beekeepers. Click here to learn more.

— Kate Griffith represents the Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association.

Santa Maria Times Article


The Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association (LVBKA) February meeting will feature a discussion on mead making.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10, 2015 at Flying Goat Cellars Tasting Room, 1520 E. Chestnut Court, Unit A, in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Other topics of discussion will include what bees are doing this time of year and what is going on with member hives. All are welcome to attend.

Kate Griffith, who took a two-day mead-making course at the University of California, Davis in November, will share course material to lead the discussion. Griffith and her husband have experimented with making a dry mead that has aged about 18 months. She has been impressed with other’s varietal honey dry mead and sparkling mead. The association welcomes local mead makers to share their experiences and bring mead to taste.

The Fund for Santa Barbara recently awarded a $4,000 grant to LVBKA. With grant funds, the organization seeks to purchase observation hives and package bees for outreach to local schools and Boys and Girls Clubs, to purchase books and videos to establish a library, to host special events, to distribute a newsletter and flyers, to maintain a website and to purchase supplies necessary to maintain honeybees in the Lompoc Bird, Butterfly and Bee sanctuary.

The LVBKA seeks the promotion and advancement of beekeeping through best management practices, the education and mentoring of people about honey bees and beekeeping and increasing public awareness of environmental concerns affecting honey bees.

LVBKA meetings are held monthly at Flying Goat Cellars Tasting Room. The association is involved in community education programs, swarm removal and mentoring new beekeepers. Membership is $10 per family annually.

To learn more, visit

Santa Barbara News Press Article

Sticky situation

Area honey bees persevere despite challenges

BeekeepingClass1Dressed in a white beekeeping suit, Archie Mitchell, a beekeeping professor at Allan Hancock College and 30-year veteran of the trade, opens one of the hives situated in a park across the road from the college’s Lompoc campus.

“See down there,” Mr. Mitchell says, opening up the box that contains the hive, motioning toward a series of tiny hexagonal cells. “There’s your honey. These are the cells the worker bees are currently working on filling.”

The tiny ampoules of honey glisten in the sun as Mr. Mitchell tilts the honeycomb. He then offers a piece of honey-drenched honeycomb. Rich, sweet and thick — and as local as it gets — the honey has a flavor all its own.

“This is a wildflower honey,” Mr. Mitchell explains. “The bees are foraging around the park here, where there’s a lot of local wildflowers. Right now, they’re mostly feeding off of native buckwheat, but there’s other nectar mixed in there too.”

Producing honey is hard work, for the bees and keepers alike. And it’s getting harder all the time.

Worldwide populations of pollinating insects are declining, honeybees included. In 2006, after disappearances of Western honeybee colonies drastically increased in North America, the phenomena was labeled Colony Collapse Disorder. Pesticides, pathogens, monoculture diets, declining genetic diversity, genetically modified crops and electromagnetic radiation have all been touted as contributing causes. Population decline here in the West is further exacerbated by the drought.

“The drought is affecting the bees in a lot of different ways,” Mr. Mitchell says. “It’s affecting the flowers and the amount of nectar they produce. We add water to the hive for the bees, but that’s causing problems too. Other insects like ants are suffering so they’re going into the hives looking for water. We have a problem with hornets too. They will actually go into the boxes and take them over.”

Honeybee colonies are also being infected with a tiny parasite called the varroa mite. Once infected, a colony can be wiped out in 18 months.

It is story recounted across the region, and while local bees are still making honey, they are making a lot less of it, as reported in the Sept. 14 News-Press.

Mr. Mitchell is one of about a dozen honey producers in the area. He started keeping bees in Lompoc about 30 years ago and sells his honey both online and at the Lompoc farmers market. It comes in 8- and 24-ounce glass jars for $7 and $12, respectively. Archie’s Honey has only one variety available, local wildflower, due to the hives not being moved from their current location. He previously kept them on Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“I had to move them a few months ago,” Mr. Mitchell says. “They told me I couldn’t keep them there anymore because of the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly. You can have bees on the lawn of the White House, but you can’t keep them on Vandenberg Air Force Base. There’s 100,000 pesticide-free acres out there and the butterfly is only in 15,000 of it. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Out on State Route 246, just before you reach Buellton from Lompoc, you pass a field of lavender that Cheryl Andre Wagner has been farming with her son, Tim, for 10 years. The family grows and harvests the herb for its oil that they extract and age on the property. As well as making a variety of lavender-scented products, Andre Lavender also produces its own lavender honey.

“We have two hives out there in the field,” Ms. Wagner tells the News-Press. “The bees pollinate the lavender and we hire a local beekeeper to look after the hives. He extracts the honey and brings it back to us in containers for bottling.”

Unique in taste, with distinct hints of the herb, one customer suggests drizzling lavender honey over feta cheese or into a cup of hot tea. Price for the honey is $8.50 for 3.7 ounces and $12.50 for 6.4 ounces.

Closer to Santa Barbara, Don and Anne Cole own and operate Goleta-based San Marcos Farms Honey Co. The couple have been harvesting and handcrafting a variety of local honeys for more than 20 years and have been selling their products at local farmers markets, including those in Goleta and Santa Barbara, since the 1980s. Prices range from $6 for 8 ounces to $22 for 48 ounces.

Mr. Cole maintains hundreds of hives and in February starts moving them around the region to be in place for the bloom of different plant species.

He first takes hives to the San Joaquin Valley to pollinate almond orchards and then places hives in the Santa Barbara backcountry for the bees to feast on local wildflower nectar, like sage and California buckwheat. He takes them to Goleta for eucalyptus, Carpinteria for avocado and Ojai for citrus. This allows for each honey to have its own flavor profile. But it is not always an exact science.

“All depends on nature; certain years are better for certain types of honey,” Mr. Cole says. “Rainfall plays a big role in that. Because of the drought, things have been pretty slim in terms of honey production. So at the moment, it’s a matter of making the most of what we can get.”

The bees also have a say in what they are producing. Brian Cox of Ojai Valley Bee Farm sells honey at the Ventura and Ojai farmers markets. It ranges from $6 for 8 ounces to $14 for 32 ounces. His orange and avocado varieties are sourced from Ojai farms while wildflower, buckwheat and sage varieties come from the backcountry.

“You can put the hives right in the middle of a certain bloom, but it doesn’t mean that’s what the bees will feed on,” says Mr. Cox with a knowing chuckle, adding that he often has to relocate the hives. “Avocados and oranges bloom at the same time, but the bees prefer the oranges because they can get more nectar. It’s less work for them so they often bypass the avocado flowers.”

That preference is good news for Friend’s Ranches in Ojai, which specializes in citrus. The Friend family started farming in the area in the late 1800s and the Thacher and Ayala families, descendants, grow different varieties of oranges, tangerines (including the famed Pixie), mandarins, grapefruits and lemons. Friend’s Ranches produces a citrus and wildflower honey that sells at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers market. It retails for $8 for 16 ounces and $19 for 48 ounces.

“Honey is a sideline to our citrus, but it’s expensive right now and it should be because there’s not enough of it around,” says Emily Ayala, co-owner of Friend’s Ranches. “The last two springs have been dry and the flowers are producing plenty of pollen, but the nectar is not as abundant and dries up quickly.

“People are attributing the decline of bees on a number of things, but for us here in the western United States, the biggest fact is that it just hasn’t rained.”



Andre Lavender: 350-0593 or

Archie’s Honey: 291-3279 or

Friend’s Ranches: 646-2871 or

Ojai Valley Bee Farm: 646-2056 or www.ojaivalleybeefarm

San Marcos Farms Honey Co.: 681-0312 or



September 18, 2014 6:47 AM

Central Coast Foodie Article

The Vanishing of the Bees

Author Rachel Duchak in Food on FilmProtect Pollinators & Promote Urban Farming,Spice BlogSpices & Honey

The pages of my notebook stick together from the copious honey that oozed through a special dinner recently offered at Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos in honor of bees. Today, bee colonies across the US are facing a mysterious demise: colony collapse disorder (CCD). To help raise awareness of their plight through flavor and film, Chef Clark Staub produced a delicious bee-dependent meal that the Full of Life team served during a screening of the documentary Vanishing of the Bees.

Bees in the Kitchen

Bees_welcomeFlatbread menu for the evening

Like Pinot Noir producers who source fruit from today’s sweet spot vineyards expressing deep concerns about a climate change effect on their future vintages, chefs fear the loss of America’s bees because they realize the impact such a disappearance would herald in limiting their culinary tools and options. Bees pollinate one third of US crops and, without these pollinators, US agricultural products from almonds to blueberries to strawberries would cease to be economically viable to produce. From the starter of warm almond soup with stinging nettle pesto and buckwheat honey snazzed with a burst of garlic to dessert featuring orange blossom honey and lemon verbena ice cream with roasted Blenheim apricots, the evening’s menu reminded our palates how the patient and steady work of bees brings a wide variety of flavor to our tables. Foodies would mourn the loss of flavors and aromas but the whole country would struggle with the loss of these willing pollinators who help produce 1 out of every 3 bites we eat.




Chef Clark Staub in the Full of Life garden

Across human history—from the ancient Egyptians who floated hives along the Nile River as they followed the bloom to the 21st-century Floridians who truck their bees to California, New England, and around the country to help pollinate important crops—humans have benefitted from working with bees. However, this beneficial relationship will soon end unless quick action is taken to isolate and address the root cause of CCD. The film took care to retain some sense of the unknown with regard to the likely culprits for CCD. However, the meeting of American bee keepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendez with French beekeepers helps make quite plain that the experience of American colony collapses resemble very much the French colony collapses from 10 years ago before the banning of a particular systemic neonicotinoid pesticide produced by Bayer.

Without even speaking the same language, these transatlantic beekeepers fully recognized they shared the same devastating experience with their hives, in France with the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and in the US with the neonicotinoid clothianidin. The good news: after sustained protests by French bee keepers against Bayer, imidacloprid was removed from the market and bee populations recovered. After the film, one beekeeper asked himself, “Why don’t I drive my tractor downtown to make a statement about bees?” Perhaps several tractor owners can channel a little French action to make a local and loud statement about banning clothianidin in the Central Coast and across the country.

Bees_saladCharred Spring Onion and Carrot Salad with Lemon and Sea Salt with Noey’s Grilled Red Romaine and San Marcos Farms Honeycomb

A Bad Trade in a War Zone

As a frequent viewer of ag documentaries from King Corn to Food Inc., I foundVanishing of the Bees especially disturbing. While my palate discovered the breadth of bee influence on our diets throughout the delicious salad of charred Yes Yes Nursery romaine , spring onion, and carrot with San Marcos honeycomb and a dinner of Pinot Noir-smoked wild salmon flatbread with wild fennel and bee pollen, my brain grew increasingly frustrated. What a terrible tradeoff: in order to achieve today’s excessive over-production of corn in the US, the 2003 EPA approved this toxic pesticidal treatment for corn, canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat that had already demonstrated in Europe its power to kill whole colonies of bees. The neurotoxin applied to sunflower and corn seeds before planting results in low level sublethal effects over time; the neurotoxin confuses and sickens the bees leading them to abandon hives with dying baby bees and their queen. Because the industrial food complex demands ever more cheap, tasteless corn, the 2003 EPA approved this systemic pesticide, which is sprayed on seeds in the factory and able to kill insects, including bees, throughout the plant’s lifetime. For the benefit of a diverse food system, this pesticide must be banned.

41ORJxtc4wL._SL500_AA300_Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees

One scene in particular in Vanishing of the Bees felt like witnessing a war zone: 40,000 hives had within weeks been abandoned by workers and drones who left behind a few lingering, dying bees including babies and the queen. In corn country, it hurts to lose the family farm to agribusiness-inspired debt, but for these beekeepers, it was as if thousands of their friends had died on the same day. Because military-grade chemicals used for munitions were steadily adopted for agricultural use after World War II, these peaceful beekeepers surveyed the “collateral damage” on these innocent insects from a repurposed chemical initially designed to kill people. Military-grade lethal chemicals have no place in our agricultural system which, with wind and flying insects, cannot be effectively contained on a particular plot of land.

Bees_ArchieArchie Mitchell advocates for bees

Amidst all this discussion of pesticides and colony collapse in the film, the attendees at this dinner and serious movie enjoyed the Full of Life meal and Jorian Hill wines or Firestone beer. And yet, underneath all the friendly talk between Santa Ynez locals and visitors during this evening of dinner and fun fellowship, one could feel the seriousness in the room especially from Chef Clark and the beekeepers in attendance. Before dinner, Lompoq beekeeper Archie Mitchell was enthusiastically advocating for keeping bees. “We need more beekeepers” he declared while doing his best to entice new beekeepers to the cause, including displaying a closed glass case with healthy bees working away at their instinctive tasks, a small slice of hope. Ron Gromak, a Santa Maria bee keeper, identified a further threat to bee health not mentioned in the film: innocuous-sounding “rose food” that anyone can buy at the local or big box hardware stores. Fertilizers for the home garden can actually use a more potent formula than for commercial growers because, the thinking goes, it will be applied in smaller quantities than on a larger farming operation. Yet, that highly toxic fertilizer that your relatives and neighbors apply to their rose bushes: it kills bees. Surely most rose enthusiasts would be aghast to learn that by beautifying their plants they were helping to kill bees. Spread the word about the dangers of rose food on bees among the rose enthusiasts you know.

Our DDT Moment

The bee keepers, horticulturalists, farmers, and chefs who collaborated to produce this dinner and encourage discussion and action on a host of threats recognize that this is our DDT moment. Before DDT was banned in 1971, the US was in danger of passively exterminating our own national mascot, the Bald Eagle. The chemical companies fought for three more years to continue to market DDT before the last legal challenge was rebuffed. Today, we’re in danger of complicating our national survival by passively exterminating colonies of bees. Taking action soon to make your voice heard on the issue of toxic chemicals in plant materials and fertilizers will help government officials make the right choice quickly to remove these products from the US marketplace. As powerful as the agribusiness and chemical lobbies might be against individual beekeepers, when every stakeholder in the health of the US bee population comes together including chefs, foodies, almond growers, ice cream store owners and employees, beekeepers, and anyone who appreciates the foods bees make possible, we will most certainly have far greater numbers on our side, like a swarm of healthy bees. But first, we have to swarm.

Thanks to Clark Straub and the Full of Life team for producing such a thoughtful evening that satisfied on many levels. The wild salmon flatbread with wild fennel and bee pollen was so good and beautiful, with festive fennel and splashes of salmon—I ate it all before thinking to take a picture. !

More info:

Full of Life Flatbread

Jorian Hill Vineyards

San Marcos Farms Honey Company

Yes Yes Nursery

Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Vanishing of the Bees documentary

American Beekeeping Federation


Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees

Call or write your Congressional representatives and make your voice heard.

  • Find your House Representative here.
  • Find your Senators here.
  • Switchboard: (202) 224-3121


Santa Maria Times National Honey Bee Day Article


The winery hosted a public demonstration and educational event that featured honey sampling and tasting of mead, a wine-like alcohol made from honey. Beekeepers were on hand with information on bees, and an observational hive that allowed visitors a peek at bees busy at work.

Lompoc bee keeper Archie Miller pointed out to curious onlookers the various parts of the hive and what they are used for—not only by bees but also by people. Everything from the honey to the waxy combs called bee’s bread, to a sticky glue-like substance called propolis or bee’s glue can be used for various purposes.

“Some people feel the whole beehive is a medicine cabinet,” said beekeeper Archie Miller.

Chris Jeffries of Santa Barbara said she came out because of the event and because she has an interest in beekeeping. She said she grew up exploring the property that belonged to her aunt, who married a bee keeper. “That’s where I first got to bite into a honeycomb. It’s a sensation you’ll never forget. I have fond memories of that,” she said.

Jim Rice, president of the Lompoc Valley BeeKeepers Association said he gets requests all the time from people like Jeffries who are interested in backyard beekeeping but that many localities have restrictions on backyard bee keeping. He said recognizing National Honey Bee Day was important in helping people recognize the plight of the honeybee whose colonies are in decline from toxins and even a short and early bloom season because of the drought. Increasing backyard beekeeping is one way to help bee colonies.

54c054080bf7e.image“Here in Lompoc we’d like to see the ordinance changed that allows people to have bees in their backyard. So the more people in the local community that get on board with that the more pressure we can apply to our local officials to get that ordinance changed,” Rice said.

Kate Griffith, owner of Flying Goat Cellars said she and her husband have been beekeepers for two to three years and for the last year they have worked on a project making mead with Buellton’s Steve Ferri. They also produce their own local, unfiltered honey under the label Hush Honey.

“We would like to enhance or increase people’s awareness of the bees and the plight of the bees and to get people interested in backyard beekeeping,” Griffith said.

Miller said there are some tasty advantages to having backyard bees.

“Whatever flowers they work on, that gives the honey its taste. The honey that we get from the backyard it’s unique because they go into so many different flowers. I call it backyard gold because of all the different floral sources,” he said.

Miller said there are plenty of things people can do to help bees, including eliminate the use of insecticides, avoid using seeds coated with systemic insecticides, create natural habitats and plant bee-friendly flowers.

August 16, 2014 4:40 pm