Bee collecting pollen

What started out as a hobby less than a year ago has become a part-time job for 48-year-old area contractor Todd Bebb, whose backyard has become a haven for bees. Bebb and his wife, Helene, have always enjoyed gardening, and so it was a joint decision to welcome bees into their garden.

They currently have three hives, each of which is home to between 10,000 and 50,000 bees. “I normally try to keep only one hive, but there have just been so many [removal] projects lately,” Bebb said. In fact, the backyard beekeeper has had more than 80 projects since he decided to get involved in relocating bee hives in March of this year.

When removing a bee hive, Todd Bebb said he prefers the “bait-out” method, in which he sets up what he refers to as a one-way door that leaves the bees with only one way to leave a home. “When they realize they can’t get back to their queen,” he said, “they find we have conveniently set them up with a new home and new queen.”

For people who want a quicker solution, Bebb said that it is also possible to do a “cut-out,” though this would mean opening up a building’s ceiling to get to bees that have swarmed there — a process that is both difficult and costly. Luckily, Bebb is a contractor. “It helps that I know how buildings are built,” he said. “I know where to go and what to do.”

Though beekeeping takes up a lot of his time, Bebb insisted, “I really just do it to help the bees.” Before he decided to convert his garden into a paradise for bees, he did a lot of research. He has taken beekeeping courses, and has learned extensively from his mentor, Paul Cronshaw, also known as “The Beeman.”

Bebb feels that it has become his duty to educate people on bees. “I’m mentoring others on how to be a backyard beekeeper, though I still need help from my mentor. I’m a student as well as a teacher. My goal is educating the public.”

Santa Barbara alone has more than 110 backyard beekeepers and a couple of commercial beekeepers. Bebb hopes that more people will open their homes to a hive or two. “Instead of one commercial beekeeper with 60,000 hives,” he explained, “I would rather see 60,000 backyard beekeepers with one hive each.”


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