Rick Drutchas came to Rutland, Vermont in the early 70's, where he first learned to keep bees from an old-time neighbor. A few years later he purchased the old Norton Dairy Farm south of Worcester village and north of Montpelier, giving Bee Haven a real home on the banks of the North Branch of the Winooski River. Serving as the Vermont State Apiarist, he and his german shepard, Max, trained to sniff out american foul brood in hives, inspected apiaries together for over a decade. Rick built Bee Haven up to 700 hives and commercial accounts across the state, before downshifting in 2010, selling the apiaries on the Champlain Islands to a younger bee operation. The yards we held onto, further south along Lake Champlain, are blessed with fragrant basswood groves, a tangled understory of honeysuckle and blackberry, and sweet-smelling black locust stands. Our bees produce an average of ten thousand pounds of honey a season, which we sell from our farm in Worcester. Still entranced with bees, and in awe of their mysteries, Rick is most concerned these days with the affect of climate-change, the varroa mite and big ag practices on bees and beekeeping. It’s hard to express how radical the changes have been for bees, and the hive, in the last 30 years.
Genevieve moved to Worcester, Vermont in the early 90’s from her home state of Minnesota, where she worked with children, adolescents and families impacted by abuse, trauma and violence. She continued this work in Vermont for another 16 years, working in community mental health and in a private practice, Green River Guild, a group psychotherapy practice she co-founded in Hyde Park, Vermont, before joining up with Rick and the bees in 2008. Bringing her soul love of gardening and the natural cycle with her, she grows organic herbs, fruits and vegetables, makes natural body and soul-care products and raises queen bees.
These days Bee Haven is a fluid 100-150 hives and a large food, flower and medicinal plant garden. We utilize the European Union's organic beekeeping protocol in our hives and organic practices in our garden. We DO treat for varroa mite, using plant-based formic and oxalic acids, and essential oils, along with selective breeding in our queen rearing practices. We take pride in producing the highest quality raw honey and crafting beautiful, effective hive and plant-based natural products.
We acknowledge with gratitude Louis Harbin of Alabama, Kirk and Sharon Jones of Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Apiaries and St. Ambrose Cellars, Ed and Ethel Hazen and Charles Ferree from the Champlain Islands, Roger Jones, Charlie Mraz, Susan Dusmore, Mike Palmer, Peter Genier, Dr. Roger Morse and Arnold Waters, the great comb honey maker, and finally, Dick Brigham, Bob Mead and Bill Matson, the state's previous apiary inspectors. A whole lot of generosity and gifts in these folks and others that have helped make Bee Haven possible. Over the years, Ben Goodrich, Biljer, Dan Staples, Aaron Alexander, Kyle Cheney and Maja Jurkiewicz have shown up to get us through the hard physical labor of the beekeeping season. We thank you all for being the kind of folks willing to work ridiculously hard while getting stung.