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Edible Portland: In league with the bees

As Magista, in his white astronaut-like beekeeper’s suit, travels across the city to care for hives, he teaches people about the hyperlocal nature of honey, why bees are integral to our food security, and how to provide great places for bees to forage.

After reading the cover story in our summer issue, I found myself sitting in my yard, early in the morning, video recording a bumble bee suckling from a purple sage flower.

What I had learned from Kerry Newberry’s feature about Damian Magista, the entrepreneurial apiarist of Bee Local Honey who manages hives across Portland (and more recently, throughout the West Coast), was that the honey that the bees who visit my yard create is one of a kind. Through the flowering plants that my neighbors and I care for (sage) – or let run rampant (lemon verbena) – we are unknowingly part of creating a special Piedmont Neighborhood blend.

Expand that times Portland’s 95 neighborhoods – and exponentially beyond – and there is an endless spectrum of honey flavors. As Magista, in his white astronaut-like beekeeper’s suit, travels across the city to care for hives, he teaches people about the hyperlocal nature of honey, why bees are integral to our food security, and how to provide great places for bees to forage.

We live among these insects, and they are secretly our closest allies. Bee Local illustrates that if we break it down to the neighborhood level, we can all play a role in expanding honeybee health – which isn’t just a noble thing to do, but also the best way to get our hands on really delicious and distinctive honey. (Magista, we’re ready for hives in my neighborhood!)

Pick up a copy of our summer issue to learn more about Magista and Bee Local Honey, for a honeyed cocktail recipe, and for other stories of the farmers, farm workers, ranchers and bees who give our local food its character.