Our last drive into the mountains brought us to Jess Lansing's house- an Indonesian style ranch home with extensive views of Fallbrook canyons and stacks of multicolored boxes filled with thousands of angry bees. Before this, the town of Fallbrook, to me, was long and winding roads like cutouts between avocado groves and vineyards. In the summer the hills are a mix of natural spring fed green and gold- a lifeline to the town's industry. But a new industry is popping up, one that typically tends to thrive in cities and places sustained by consistency and not so much dependent on natural climate. I would think that the pollination cycle would be wholly reliant on itself, better without human aid. In this specific situation it seems that humans actually play a large part in the pollination cycle and cities provide more biodiversity for colonies to thrive.
Jess began beekeeping in Los Angeles in 2018. Somewhat self-taught between YouTube and books, and shortly after began working for a beekeeper doing odd jobs- most of which did not involve bees. A hang around. But as the years went on she learned the basics and once again was on her own doing removals and relocations.
Conditions for these insects have to be just right. The meadow beneath her house provides the perfect amount of shade and the spring provides a good source of running water. By the time we had suited up the light was, perfectly, coming through the branches of the oaks and she began peeling back the layers on the boxes one by one.
On a good year one hive will easily produce over 100 pounds of honey. That is why Jess never takes more than she needs to keep her small batches on the shelves or on plates at local restaurants. Not only is it a source of food for us but it is also the bee's main source of food. Jess finds meditation in creating a circular, sustainable life for hundreds of thousands of living organisms and being in her world for the short time that I was, I can say that I found that meditation too. It's a battle. Constantly knowing, or finding out, where and where not to stand. Hearing so much life move around you so closely. Becoming part of that balance and that world is extremely fulfilling, even if you're not harvesting. Even if you have no place there.
On my first take, I didn't listen. I wore the suit that looked the most comfortable. And from what I learned, that's never the one you want. The second they find those holes, they never forget where they are. Maybe I should've listened to the person that does this for a living. I also found that it pretty hard to shoot through those nets. Everything is way darker than it seems. Anyways, while she loaded the smoker with burlap and shrubs, I put on a new suit and we were back at it.
In the future, Jess wants to continue producing more small batch products, collaborating with other like-minded people, and eventually host beekeeping workshops to educate more people on what goes on inside the hive. As for now, you can find her products at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Rye Goods Laguna Beach, Long Story Short in San Diego, Daydream Surf Shop and local events in the Los Angeles and San Diego area. Thank you for having us out, Jess!