#NextGenBeekeeper is a series of profiles and features on the lives of the next generation of beekeepers emerging in the field. Keep an eye out on our social media for the #NextGenBeekeeper tag.
Name: Robin David
From: Seattle, WA
How long have you been at The Best Bees Company? Since July 2020
Position/title: Regional Beekeeper
How long have you been beekeeping? Just finished my second year!
David harvesting honey
Best Bees is your side gig. Tell us about your other beekeeping endeavors! I recently finished my contract working as a project coordinator for the kid’s educational TV show called Look, Listen and Learn. It’s a really cool show based in Seattle that focuses on the representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of color) in the community and social-emotional learning. It’s been really fun working there and I’ve learned a lot! We filmed a bee segment for an episode that will be airing in 2021.
I also run my own apiaries outside of Seattle on farmland in Woodinville and Duvall. My friends Andrew and Antoine who run Regeneration Farm were very instrumental in me getting started with beekeeping. They helped me inherit my first hive and set me up at their farm with free reign to learn beekeeping. The space they’ve given me allows me to teach new beekeepers and people who are looking to get into bees. I sell the honey I harvest from those apiaries and have been experimenting with some infusions with peppers lately.
Outside of bees, I’m finishing my Bachelor’s in International Business. I’m pretty stoked to be done with school. Outside of all that, I enjoy writing comedy and working out. I can’t wait for Covid to end so I can get back on a mic, tell jokes in front of random people, and play sports.
You recently had the opportunity to talk on the Today’s Show about Murder Hornets! What was that like? It was pretty cool getting called by NBC. I gave them the local beekeeper’s perspective on the issue. Something that was really eye-opening was, how often do you get a major news outlet calling you to talk about what you do? It was pretty short notice so I have to thank my friend, Jooree, who allows me to keep a hive at her house. We were able to set up in front of that hive and do the interview there. I got to talk about what it’s like being in the “affected area” and also got to show off my bees.
The next day, when it aired was the fun part! I got up early and watched it with my dog, Jerry who was a bit grumpy because the show started before he usually wakes up. It was really fun hearing from friends that I haven’t heard from in a while, saying “Why are you on my tv talking about Murder Hornets right now?”.
Robin and other beekeepers filming
What’s your favorite part about working at Best Bees? I’d have to say having great beekeepers as coworkers. I can always rely on my Seattle team to help me process a problem when I’m out in the field. Shoutout Jenn, Dallas, and our manager Sam! Having a great team that’s just a phone call away is so valuable when working with bees.
Why do you think it is important to keep bees or do the work you’re doing? There’s still so much to learn about bees. I love helping others learn. Helping others get involved with beekeeping can create such a diverse community of knowledge.
I think we’re just scratching the surface of our relationship with bees, but what’s most interesting to me is the next level; what are bees’ relationship with everything else? Once we can get that figured out, it’ll help us learn so much about them and allow us to better help bees.
What is your favorite cool bee fact?
The bee’s ability to read and sense barometric pressure changes. Bees have been seen to rush into the hive when they sense a storm coming. I’m interested in seeing how that sense can vary between regional bees. Since it rains so much in Seattle, have Seattle bees adjusted to forage more efficiently than bees from sunny California? Do they have a different standard as to what is “bad foraging weather” vs “good foraging weather”?
Robin and his beehives
Honesty time: are you afraid of bees? Yes but I’m working on it! The very first time inspecting my hives alone, I had a hole in my suit that I didn’t notice until it was too late. I felt a tickle on my eyebrow and figured it was just my hair, and after it tickled a few more times, I noticed it was a bee. Then I felt a lot of tickles and heard buzzing on my head. I slowly raised the helmet part of the veil only to reveal 20-30 bees inside the helmet. I slowly started walking away from the hive, but the bees became agitated and I lost my cool as well. I started sprinting towards the road off the farm and ripped my suit off and the bees started going at me! I ran into a co-farmer and his friend who helped me take the bees out of my hair and beard and help me cool off after such a stressful situation. That friend turned out to be the marketing manager of the TV show I ended up working for, and that was how I got connected to the show! (Thanks Sohroosh). It’s always crazy thinking about how bees have connected me to such great things. While I do fear and respect their stings, I am in great appreciation of how they seem to connect all of us together.
As far as suits go, I’ve taken kind of an Iron Man/Tony Stark approach. I’ve progressed to different suits of varying protection and ventilation to best suit me for the occasion. No more cheap suits!
I’ve also learned to slow down my pace and take a seat while beekeeping. Having a slow pace gets me in a zen-like zone which makes beekeeping kind of therapeutic. The bees notice you less so it feels less invasive for them as well.
Would you rather be a queen bee or a worker bee? I like the idea of the worker bee. As a person who likes to do a lot of different things, I’d definitely be a worker bee. They get to go out and see all kinds of stuff, and tell all their friends if they find anything cool! Although if I was a Queen bee, do you know what my favorite Nirvana song would be? “Smells Like Queen Spirit.”
Is there anything that you’ve been working on or that you’re excited about that you’d like to promote?
Check out my Instagram! I post a lot of fun bee stuff and a lot of my dog, Jerry who loves watching me beekeep.
Robin and his dog Jerry