Rick Drutchas came to Vermont as a back to the lander in the early 70's, where he first learned to keep hives from an old time neighbor. Rick grew up in Detroit, where he was rejected by the draft for being allergic to bees, was a roadie for the MC5, and trucked food for the burgeoning food coop scene. Eventually he purchased the old Norton Dairy Farm south of Worcester village, giving Bee Haven Honey Farm its home on the North Branch of the Winooski River. He went on to serve as the Vermont State Apiarist for over a decade. He and his german shepard, Max, trained to sniff out american foulbrood, inspected hives together for many years. Blessed with the apiaries of an old-time beekeeper on the Champlain Islands, Rick eventually built his operation to 700 hives and accounts across the state.
We slowed way down in 2010 when most of our hiveyards and accounts were sold to a younger bee operation. We retained a handful of favorite apiaries in locations blessed by beautiful and fragrant basswood groves with understories of honeysuckle and blackberry bramble, along with lots of sweet-smelling black locust stands. As more and more of Vermont's agricultural lands go the way of large scale gmo corn operations, or development, we're grateful for hives stashed in a handful of sweet untended places, blessedly left to represent what used to be.
Still entranced with bees and in awe of their mysteries, Rick is now most concerned with the changing worlds' affect on bees and beekeeping, as environmental issues, climate change and the varroa mite continue to radically impact the sweet canaries in the coal mine that honeybees are.
Genevieve came to Vermont from her home state, Minnesota, in the early 90's. She co-founded Green River Guild in Hyde Park, Vermont, where she specialized in work with children and adolescents as a psychotherapist for 15 years. She joined up with Rick in 2008, bringing her love of gardening and hearth keeping. She now counts herself a grateful hermit, growing organic herbs, fruits and vegetables, making natural and medicinal body and soul-loving products, grafting queen bees and supporting healthy hives.
Nowadays we tend 150 hives and a large garden and we wild-craft from the woods. We utilize the European Union's Organic Beekeeping Protocol in our hives, which means we DO treat for varroa mite, using plant based acids, formic or oxalic, and essential oils, along with selective breeding through our queen-rearing practice . Any ingredients we need to source for our non-honey products, things like carrier oils for instance, are ethically-sourced with priorities for being organic, fair trade and sustainable.
We think it's important to thank, honor and remember teachers, colleagues and past partners of Bee Haven: Michelle Beebe, Louis Harbin of Alabama, Kirk Jones of Michigan, "he turned me on to the forklift", Ed and Ethel Hazen and Charles Ferree from the Champlain Islands, Roger Jones, Charlie Mraz, "he got me to finally read C.C. Miller's 'Fifty Years Among the Bees", Susan Dusmore, "she worked harder then anyone else i've ever worked with. i'd be ready to quit and she'd say, 'let's go do another yard ", Mike Palmer, Peter Genier, Dr. Roger Morse, 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. Additionally, over the years, Bee Haven has been assisted by Ben Goodrich, Biljer, Dan Staples and Aaron Alexander, who showed up to learn or just work when it was needed. We're grateful for this. We feel privileged to be a part of Vermont's remarkable beekeeping history and grateful for living the life we have.