By Steve Elder | CNA Media Team
Glen Andresen shares his house and yard on Alberta Court with his cats Boo and Rio. And about 300,000 honeybees.
In addition to beehives, the land around the house he’s owned for 30 years has native fruit trees and organic garden beds. Glen has been keeping bees in his back yard since 1992, and in other people’s back yards since 2002.
Glen has a degree in economics and has studied classical music, but said he’d rather play with bees and dig in the dirt.
In addition to keeping bees, Andresen is a master gardener. He’s the host of the long running hour-long edible gardening show, “The Dirt Bag,” heard the second Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. on community radio station KBOO.
He also teaches backyard organic beekeeping through Portland Community College, and the gardening supply store Garden Fever. Glen was named the Oregon recycler of the year in 2009 by the Association of Oregon Recyclers.
In 2013 Glen cofounded Bridgetown Bees, a project whose goal is to breed selectively and raise a Portland strain of honey bee queens here that can survive local winters without treatment of any kind.
“It’s not just the cold that’s hard on bees, its the cold and damp,” he said.
Helping reduce the decline of honeybees in the region is an integral goal of the Bridgetown Bees mission. Since 2006, honeybees have been dying off at an unsustainable rate with billions of bees disappearing in the U.S.
Losses are estimated at greater than 40 percent a year. Today there are half as many beekeepers as there were in the 1980s, Glen said.
“The collapse of honeybee populations also threatens the security of our food supply,” he added.
“Honey bee pollination is critical to the cultivation of over a third of our food supply.” Glen sells honey and organic produce from his porch self-serve stand, but most honey is sold through a neighborhood co-op grocery and a local donut shop which is known for its honey-coated offerings.
He usually runs out of honey each year, retailing close to 5,000 pounds in most seasons.
Glen restocks colonies and starts new ones with swarm captures and colony cutouts. He does some 10 building removals each year, some for a fee.
In a normal season he may capture 50 swarms. Anyone who is host of an unwelcome swarm can contact Glen at 503.333.9271 or Glen@bridgetownbees.com.