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Working in gardens, whether designing, building or gardening fills me with a sense of peace, wonder and gratitude. Each day brings simple pleasure. In spring it might be the fresh green leaves of Indian Plum shining in the woods heralding a change of season that brightens my heart after a dark winter. In summer, it’s the cat mint thrumming to life with bees. In late fall, when the sun shines through bunch grasses just right, seed-heads turn into golden prisms of a thousand shimmering lights. In winter, it’s cozying up inside my house like the bees, drawing a plan, glad for physical rest and the bounty of summer’s nectar that sweetens my tea. I feel lucky to do my work, as I have the chance to integrate my desire to make life better for others with my love of the land and soil, architecture, plants, stone, wood, cooking, painting and bees. I get to transform often poisoned, neglected landscapes into organic flowering and fruiting oases full of life for everyone to enjoy. As the soil is improved, plants grow happily and attract a myriad of beneficial insects, amphibians and songbirds. Music fills the air where silence once reigned. Not only do I witness the gardens’ expansion over the years, but that of my clients’ lives too, into closer contact with the earth, plants and their true natures. Whether they’re meditating in the garden or entertaining friends there, taking cuttings to make arrangements for tables or as gifts, picking vegetables for dinner or harvesting honey from their hives, my clients enjoy their gardens and learn too how to become stewards of the land. It’s fulfilling to see their joy.
In the spring of 2005 when the Ceanothus was blooming, I took note that the normally bee-filled plant was silent. I noticed a decline in the bee populations in my gardens that year too, and was alarmed. I soon heard of the phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder and set out to learn more about the precious honeybee and her troubles. For a few years I attended every class, course and conference I could find about bees. I became an ardent bee lover and keeper. I traveled to France and England regularly to learn from beekeepers who are also working to solve the problem of bee losses and came in contact with interesting and unusual hives and ancient ways of working with the bee, which I have since integrated into my own practices.
Along with designing, building and maintaining gardens, I teach natural beekeeping and related classes to children and adults, sharing the knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years of how to better keep the Earth for the bees and the rest of us. I practice Apitherapy and offer Hive Medicine sessions for those seeking a holistic form of healing, all of which take place at the Melissa Bees Garden for Hive Medicine.Melissa has a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon and is a Licensed Landscape Contractor in Oregon and Washington. She has designed, built and maintained over 125 acres of organic gardens in the Portland Metro Area and in the Columbia River Gorge and continues to today. Melissa combines 20 years of transforming landscapes with honeybee knowledge and assessorship and invites her clients to step into a world of health and healing through the garden, bees, Apitherapy and Hive Medicine. She is available as a consultant and educator for individuals and organizations seeking direction in the establishment of extraordinary gardens and hives, as well as those seeking a holistic form of healing. She is a member of the American Apitherapy Society. OLCB# 7367 WA UBI# 602757091
As a teacher of the alternative myself for many years I like to think I know what works and what doesn’t, and Melissa’s classes work. She’s a natural teacher – the best kind. She’s funny, approachable and makes you feel as if you’ve known her forever, not to mention she’s like a walking encyclopedia for everything Bees. What a treasure she is. We were thrilled to find someone who can teach us what we need to know now and probably for a long time; we signed up for more classes the minute our first one was finished.- Sherri Tyler