Last week, visiting the Bond’s home on an unbearably hot summer day felt a bit like being in the midst of a bee hive. You’ve literally got bee hives—five in fact—a vegetable and flower garden, a Permaculture garden to nourish the apple trees, which in turn nourish the bees, caterpillar eggs to collect and harvest safely into Swallowtail butterflies, and the Greenwise Crew buzzing about maintaining the Bond’s large corner Evanston lot.
I admit before talking to David Bond about his beekeeping, I’d been blissfully ignorant of the world of bees. David’s passion for them has inspired me to want to learn more. His interest began more than 10 years ago and so he actually went out and bought a Bees for Dummies book. Finally, seven years later, he wondered what he was waiting for, realized retirement was too far away and got busy (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
A Fascination with Bees
“I have a fascination with stinging insects and super organisms. A grasshopper behaves like every man for himself. But honeybees act as a single organized unit and every bee has a specific role to play. As human beings, our organs each provide a necessary function for the body to survive, and the honeybees provide those same necessary functions for the hive,” David explains.
I won’t go into all the details here but suffice it to say that in a bee’s short life, their daily schedules are packed with planned activities where each bee plays a critical role in keeping the hive humming. In her prime, the Queen bee can lay up to 1,000 eggs per day, so you can imagine how quickly a bee population can expand.
David has a quarter million bees in his yard. The bees store about 80-100 pounds of honey at the bottom of their hive, which they rely on to survive our Chicago winter. Any extra is for David’s taking. He had so much honey this past year that he decided to open up shop–an online shop to sell his honey, homemade chocolate bars and crackers (using spent grains from Sketchbook Brewery in Evanston).
Bond Artisan Foods–Honey, Chocolate and More
For years, David has been known as the bread guy from when he and Cie helped establish the Evanston Art Truck. The Art Truck is an art event once or twice a year where local artists display their work.
At each event, David has provided his homemade bread, biscotti, cakes and crackers for free, purely out of his love of baking and his greater love of seeing people enjoy his creations.
If you are looking for that special delicious something (locally made!), you have to check out David’s online store: https://www.bondartisanfoods.com/ (make sure you check back again in the winter when he’ll be offering his amazing biscotti!)
How a Permaculture Works & Benefits the Bees
While David works his day job and tends the bees, Cie spends her free time maintaining the gardens, raising Swallowtail butterflies and marketing David’s online store (plus, she’s a talented visual artist). Earlier this summer, Cie started a permaculture garden to help ensure their apple trees thrive as a nectar source for the bees.
A permaculture is a holistic, sustainable approach to gardening. Everything you plant is designed to benefit your local ecosystem and in turn the earth. To help her apple trees flourish, Cie is growing red and white clover, fennel, dill, mint, buckwheat, lemon balm, creeping thyme and nasturtium.
The buckwheat and clover nourish the soil by collecting nitrogen. And the nasturtium and chives act as distractors by preventing bad insects from setting foot in the area. The deep-rooted plants, such as daffodils, garlic and chives bring water and nutrients to the tree roots.
Cie collects the Swallowtail eggs from the dill, fennel and parsley where she grows them inside until they turn into butterflies and can be released out her dining room window. Did you know swallowtail eggs only have a small percent chance of survival in nature? By harvesting them indoors, she increases that chance to 100%.
Cie even covers the apples with small plastic bags as an organic approach to preventing unwanted pests. To avoid caterpillars from devouring the apples, you need to catch the apples when they are the size of your pinky. The plastic bag acts as a mini greenhouse and a natural pesticide.
Creating a Safe, Pesticide-Free Place for the Bees
With David’s honeybees, it’s critically important that no dangerous chemicals or pesticides are introduced onto their property. That’s why they value the work Greenwise does. Their corner lot with trees and fence posts and garden areas requires a lot of time and tools to properly maintain the lawn. Long ago, they decided it was well worth hiring a team with the right tools to do the job in a fraction of the time it would require them to perform the work. An added perk is that Cie loves the color of the trucks and it makes her happy and proud to see the Greenwise truck parked in front of her home.
Greenwise is proud to play a small role in Cie and David’s efforts to make a difference in our local environment by helping our pollinators thrive. The local eco-system they’ve worked so hard to create helps heal our planet and, for anyone lucky enough to hang out in their yard, warm our souls. It’s all about making a difference, one yard at a time.