Professional Beekeeping in the Seattle Area

Since 2010, The Best Bees Company has offered a unique, turnkey way for individuals and organizations to make a positive impact on the environment. Operating in Seattle since 2016, Best Bees is now the leading beekeeping service in Seattle and throughout the Puget Sound Region.

We work with both residential and commercial clients, including tech companies like Expedia, and real estate firms such as Beacon Properties, Kilroy, Swift and Schnitzer West.

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Our Mission

Our mission is to expand the bee population while improving the health of honeybees and other pollinators here in Seattle and around the world. Since we began operations here in 2016, we’ve doubled the number of hives serviced in Greater Seattle each year. Our locally certified beekeepers install and manage hives on your property and use the data we collect to drive the science of pollinator health forward with scientific partners that include Urban Bee Lab, NASA, MIT and National Geographic.

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Our Reach in the Seattle Area

20+ residential customers
60+ hives
20+ commerical clients

Hive Programs for Commercial Properties

We offer innovative solutions that can help bring your corporate sustainability programs to life. These include the highest standards on beekeeping, as well as developed workshops and programs that will engage your community—employees, guests, tenants, community leaders and the public—in your sustainability work.

“Seattle is a very environmentally conscious community.” says Best Bees beekeeper Robin David, “Our clients like to showcase their beehives and the honey their bees produce. Honey tastings, custom-designed waterfront hives visible to all, Earth Day pollinator events—these are ways our clients are demonstrating to the people of Seattle their commitment to sustainability.”

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Commercial Services

Beekeeping for Your Residential Backyard

If you’d like to save bees, build a healthier environment, pollinate your garden, and have your own honey harvest, then our residential service is perfect for you! We offer turnkey beekeeping, honey harvesting, and DNA analysis designed for homeowners in a wide range of environments. Regardless of the size of your property—whether you garden on a balcony, or have acres of land, we can set up and tend a hive—or several hives—for you.

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Residential Services

Beekeeping Education

We offer a number of for-fee educational programs that have proven popular with commercial clients, schools, gardening clubs and organizations promoting sustainability.

Pre-recorded and live hive tours

Experience a guided tour as one of our bee experts takes you on a walk-through of your hive visits and inspections. Get a glimpse of the busy life of bees and learn more on how to keep tenants engaged with their local environment. Live tours are available for up to 20 participants.

Meet an expert beekeeper

Participate in a beekeeper-led webinar and Q&A session. This virtual event is a great opportunity to learn about your bees through the lens of a beekeeper. We’ll discuss the data collected from your beehives, why bees matter, and what it's like to take care of your bees.

Virtual keynotes

Gain insight into the world of bees with our Chief Science Officer and Founder, Dr. Noah Wilson-Rich. Noah's knowledge of honeybee health and his passion for bee research will leave your audience spellbound, and with a wealth of new insight about our natural world. Our virtual keynote package includes signed copies of The Bee: A Natural History.

How Professional Beekeeping Works

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Installation

We help you choose an ideal location to establish one or more beehives at your home or workplace.

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Maintenance

Our impassioned and experienced beekeepers service your beehives once a month, providing high-quality care and detailed reports.

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Harvesting

You keep 100% of the raw honey produced. We’ll handle the rest— small batch extraction and bottling with personalized labels.

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Research

At every visit, we collect data and share it with our research partners to advance the science of beekeeping and improve the health of pollinators worldwide.

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Safe

Our honeybees, Apis mellifera ligustica, are the most docile species of honeybees, making our hives extremely safe and the instance of stings very unlikely.

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Insured

We have a full insurance policy and can provide a Certificate of Insurance (COI) easily.

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Experienced

Our beekeepers are trained to work safely in densely populated urban areas. This includes on balconies, rooftops, and skyscrapers.

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Beekeeping Laws in Washington State

Washington State requires all beekeepers to register their hives with the Department of Agriculture each year.

Beekeeping laws can vary by municipality. In Seattle, hives must be 25’ from the property line, unless there is a privacy fence or hedge, or the hive is situated 8’ or more above ground level. Before keeping bees of your own, check with your local department of health.  If you contract with Best Bees, you can be sure that we will follow all local regulations regarding permitting and hive placement.

All of our beekeepers are locally licensed to use pesticides and are certified for safe roof-top work.

Seattle Service Area

We service hives throughout the Greater Seattle Area, from Tacoma in the south to Bellingham in the north, including the following counties:

King

Snohomish

Pierce

Thurston

Skagit

What's Included

  • Site Evaluation
  • Hand-crafted, all-natural beehive equipment installed onsite
  • A colony of docile honey bees (Apis mellifera ligustica)
  • Monthly maintenance visits and follow up reports
  • Advanced scheduling so you can alert your team
  • Full-time customer service team available by phone or email
  • Raw honey, harvested and bottled just for you
  • Replacement colonies provided at no cost
  • Fully insured professional service

About Local Honey

Honey production varies from colony to colony, depending on the strength of the Queen, the health of the hive and the availability of nourishment. New colonies tend to produce less honey than established ones. When there is a surplus of honey, we will harvest and jar it for you.

The composition and flavor of honey varies from hive to hive as well, depending on the floral species available to pollinate. This means that honey from your hive will have a unique profile. Tasting it, you are tasting the composite of all the flowers your bees have visited!

“With three distinct seasonal flows here in Seattle,” says Best Bees Beekeeper Robin David, “You can really taste the difference in our honey by season.  I really love the distinct taste Japanese Knotweed gives to late summer red honey.” 

In our studies of honey DNA, we’ve found that honey from urban hives includes a much wider range of species—as much as eight times more than honey from rural and suburban hives!

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HoneyDNA

We pioneered the process of identifying the exact percentage of various pollen species found in honey through advanced genomic sequencing. Understanding where bees foraged reveals which plants best feed pollinators in the local environment.

Already Have a Hive?

At Best Bees, we’re proud to be a part of the local beekeeping community in every area in which we work.

If not already a member of either the Washington State Beekeepers Association or the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, we encourage you to join. You can learn more about them at https://wasba.org and  https://pugetsoundbees.org.

Join our Citizen Scientist movement!  Here some ways you can participate:

  • Plant more pollinator habitat on your property
  • Use bee-safe pesticide alternatives
  • Get involved in local and national lobbying
  • Submit your honey for HoneyDNA

You can also post your data to bee Citizen Science programs like iNaturalist and Beecology Project.

We gladly share the learning from our research and our best practices with everyone.

To learn more about the findings of our research work, visit our White Papers Page.

Unique Challenges and Opportunities to Beekeeping in the Seattle Area

While the Seattle Area has a temperate climate without the extremes of heat and cold common to many U.S. cities, global warming is causing greater fluctuations. With winter night-time temperatures occasionally dropping into the low teens, our beekeepers are finding that hive insulation is improving colony survival rates.

Moisture is our biggest challenge. With a long rainy season, moisture collects on both the inside and outside of hives, creating unhealthy conditions for bees. Our beekeepers have found that use of Vivaldi Board ventilators keeps our bees dry through the winter.

Our long growing season is a plus—we have three distinct pollination periods that produce strong honey flows: early spring, where maple and apple trees are dominant, early summer, where blackberries are common, and late summer, where Japanese knotweed helps produce delicious red honey. With relatively mild winters and plenty of precipitation, our climate is great for gardening, and a profusion of small vegetable, flower and herb gardens means that pollinators have ample food supplies throughout the season.

Another plus for beekeepers: the Pacific Northwest has fewer insect pests than other regions.

A mild climate, ample natural forage, a profusion of gardens, and fewer pests have resulted in high colony survival rates in Seattle.  

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A Pacific North West beekeeper, tending to a beehive at the West Seattle

Bringing innovative beekeeping practices to the Seattle Area

With every hive a datapoint, we’re able to observe bees in a wide variety of conditions and test alternative treatments in hives across the country.  This allows us to introduce successful innovations to Seattle and take learning from our Seattle hives to other cities.  Seattle is one of our hubs for native pollinator research.

We encourage our beekeepers to try out new approaches and believe that diversity fosters innovation.  Our office in Seattle is proud to host an internship program that encourages BIPOC community members to pursue careers in beekeeping.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

We install and maintain honeybee hives on your property. Our expert beekeepers monitor the health of your bees and perform a variety of tasks throughout the year to help them thrive. At each visit, we also capture a range of metrics and share the data with renowned research partners to help the scientific community better understand the plight of pollinators. Towards the end of the season, we extract the honey and jar it for you.

About once per month for our Seattle Area hives. If your bees are distressed and need extra support, supplemental visits are included. We coordinate each visit in advance and send a summary report afterward.

Only a few square feet!  A beehive takes up as little as 2’ x 2’ x 3’. Our beekeepers need a few feet around the hive to access it, and the bees’ flight path will need to be unrestricted.

In the Seattle area, we typically install hives when all threat of winter has passed, which is typically in April and May. Installations after June are accommodated on a case-by-case basis, depending on our inventory levels.

We fully guarantee the health of our bees and queens. If a colony dies, we’ll replace it with a healthy one from our own stock at no additional cost. While we hope each of our hives will thrive for years to come, the reality is that pollinators are still dying at an unprecedented rate.

 

Our Boston-based headquarters is staffed full time and available Monday through Friday during work hours by phone or email to answer any questions. When a colony requires extra attention, additional visits are made at no cost to you.

Yes, we provide a range of event support packages for our commercial clients.  See Hive Programs for Commercial Customers for details.

Green roofs earn credits toward a building’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Green roofs provide vegetation for water control, wildlife habitat, and better urban air quality. Honeybees can help maintain the green roofs that are becoming more common in big cities and thus contribute to a building’s LEED rating.

We service hives from Tacoma to Bellingham, in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, and Skagit counties in Washington State 

We handle visit scheduling for you. We’ll contact you at least 72 hours in advance via email.

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