Meet the Beekeepers

A watercolor painting by Lisa AdamsonThe heart of the book is based on numerous interviews with Bay Area beekeepers, ranging from life long professionals to novice beekeepers, including a New York City cop who moved to California and became a beekeeper, the chef from the Fairmont Hotel, a florist, a perfumer, a landscape gardener, an engineer at Google, an urban farmer in Oakland and more.

A watercolor painting by Lisa AdamsonThese interviews provide a unique and personal look at urban beekeeping that encompasses scientific, philosophical, and spiritual approaches to this ancient art. They provide an entertaining and informative narrative which motivates readers into action to support the urban beekeeping movement.

Video footage by professional videographer, Catherine Butler of Butler Films, Inc. Very amateur editing by Judith Adamson.

David Eichorn has been keeping bees for over 35 years. He teaches classes in beekeeping and is available for swarm removal in the East Bay. Phone: 510-524-9473. Cell: 510-778-0587. Email:

Spencer Marshall has been a beekeeper for over 30 years. He manages the hives while Helene Marshall manages the business. He gets the honey and she gets the money, as she proudly points out. Marshalls Farm Honey offers local honey to the public via specialty grocery stores, local farmers’ markets and via shipping all over the country.

Chef JW Foster initiated beehives on the roof of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco by enlisting the expertise of Spencer and Helene Marshall. Now four hives thrive at the best address in San Francisco and guests love to watch the bees who pollinate the herbs which will be used in their dinner. Chef Foster not only uses the honey and herbs in his meals, but he brings awareness of the plight of the honeybee to the public. Watch his video below.

Laurie Stern became a beekeeper when a swarm landed in her beautiful garden in El Cerrito and she fell in love with the bees. They are crucial to her business, Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery where she blends the romance of the “golden era” of perfume through romantic scents and gorgeous packagingwith a modern sensitivity to organics, health, and ethics.

Pat Gibbons became a beekeeper when she discovered a hive in a fancy flower pot in her back yard. She is an exquisite floral designer, specializing in weddings.

Barbara and Jacques Shlumberger began The Melissa Garden as a honeybee and native pollinator garden sanctuary. They have a holistic approach to all elements of living with bees, including information on alternative hives; opportunities to learn about apitherapy, the therapeutic use of products of the hive; and artistic and cultural activities inspired by the honeybees.

Michael Thiele decided it was time to start beekeeping when dreams about bees were followed by swarm after swarm coming to his home when he lived at Green Gulch. His approach to beekeeping centers around the idea that the hive is an entity, a being unto itself. Michael sets up individual apiaries, offers alternative bee hives, gives seminars and presentations. Check out some of his amazing videos at

Bill Tomaszewski is a retired New Jersey police sergeant who moved to CA and became a bee keeper. He and his wife created Marin Bee Company, a green company with a conscience and a mission is to actively help the environment by repopulating honeybees as they struggle to survive. They install beehives in home, corporate (Google, for example) and community gardens, offering adopt-a-hive programs, workshops and beekeeping supplies and free advice.

When engineer Rob Peterson and Chef Marc Rasic asked if beehives could be set on the grounds of Google there was no problem and they enlisted Bill Tomaszewski to set them up and teach Googlers how to work the hives. Watch the video of summer intern Greg Robinson as he casually sits with the bees, without bee suit or gloves.

Steve Gentry knew he wanted to keep bees when as a boy he stood mesmerized by an observation hive. He took a beekeeping class when he was 30 and was one of the founding members of Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association. He’s kept bees ever since and can be found with his products (honey, wax and pollen) at farmers markets in Orinda, Walnut Creek, Moraga, and San Ramon. Steve also sells his honey in several stores (found on his website).

Mike Stephanos has been keeping bees as a hobby for over fifteen years. Along with being a beekeeper with hives around Walnut Creek, including at Rossmoor, he’s a product developer. Watch his video as he talks about beekeeping. (video coming)

Mauro Correa is a classical musician originally from Brazil, and urban farmer on his amazing acre in Oakland. He also is a beekeeper since bees are essential to his vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit trees. (video coming)

Tom Manger

Michael Cooper and Deno Marcum, new to beekeeping, keep several hives on rooftops in San Francisco. They offer pure Noe Valley specialty wildflower honey from the heart of San Francisco, gathered from bees kept free of antibiotics.

Help the bees, honeybee and native bee alike by signing up and planting your sunflower. Observe it, record the data on line. The data you collect will shed light on how to help pollinators.

Northern California Beekeeping Clubs