HAUSER — Jeff Insley and his wife Mona speak about bees with such eagerness and passion that after a few minutes of talking with them it’s easy to get carried away in their world. The couple has been working in the beekeeping industry for about 10 years and has developed their own beehive rental business, Coastal Pollinators.
Jeff, a wildland firefighter, has spent his entire life around bees with his father and grandfather both being involved with beekeeping. Jeff said he believes it all began with his grandfather’s peach orchard in Roseburg.
“I grew up in the farming industry and in a conservationist world,” said Jeff. “Since I was an infant, it’s just been a part of my life.”
The Insleys, who currently operate about 40 bee hives, have been a local resource for beekeeping education and information for their family and friends for years. The couple has been working with local farms throughout the county and leasing their bees to help growers pollinate their crops.
“Our busy season for the bees is March through September,” said Mona. “With pollination you have to follow the crop cycle and coordinate from there.”
Bees will collect and transfer pollen from plant to plant which would allow for crops to develop and grow successfully for the season. Working on a tight schedule, Mona said they would usually start their hives off with blueberries and raspberries and then move on to cranberries toward the late summer. In the off season, the couple will work on building wood frames for their hives, constructing stands and feeding their bees throughout the year.
Once hives do go out, the couple said they do routine checkups and keep their eyes open for certain signs to ensure a successful season. Jeff mentioned predators such as skunks and opossums will scratch on the entrance of hive stands and wait for bees to come out.
“They will eat them like popcorn,” said Jeff. “So, for ours we elevate them from the ground (about 12 inches) to make it harder from them.”
Other things the Insley’s look out for are mites, wax moths and wasps including the yellow jacket. These insects are all predators to the hives and will cause damage if not properly addressed, said Mona.
“Another thing is pesticides,” said Mona. “We do a lot of communicating and educating with our partnership with farmers in regards to spraying.”
A typical hive will carry between 20,000 to 50,000 bees and a bee will fly up to a 5 mile radius of its hive. The Insley’s said they’ve been very fortunate to stay in the agriculture world because their partners see the value of having the bees there.
“I love that people are getting into bees,” said Jeff. “For the future, we’d like to increase our partnerships and hives.”
For those thinking of joining the beekeeping industry or renting out hives, Jeff and Mona stress that people involved will need to have a deep rooted passion for bees and to be flexible and communicative.
“For us it’s really leaving this place better than we found it,” said Mona. “This is our lifestyle.”