A year-in-review message from Circle of Bees punk rock swarm leader, Christian Coulon:

The year 2019 was tremendous for the Circle of Bees (CoB). We did indeed receive the promised Environmental Recognition Award from the City of Davis. The reception ceremony was a blur. I recall telling a room of august persons that I had pollinators in my stomach and promising we were only getting started. This was last April and it was a bit of a mini golden age for the CoB.

We also successfully deployed our art project in Central Park entitled “Resurrection Cycle.” For three days the swarm capture fleet was deployed in a large pinwheel structure hanging in sycamore trees high above the park. The artwork ended up producing the full manifestation of spectacle promised by our chosen innovative genre of sub/urban ecological art when, around mid-morning Saturday, same time as the Farmer’s Market, there was a commotion in the park. A large colony of honeybees was busy occupying the top-most hive in the installation.

Swarm capture fleet captured nine colonies

It was an extraordinaryily beautiful sight: the whole swarm pattern was superimposed on the sun producing a weaving pattern of golden lit fairies, a great brown gob of happy bees was lumped on the side of the hive, working their way in the entrance slot. The hive itself was slowly spindling on its thread resulting in a moving entrance – an evolutionary non sequitur which did not appear to bother the bees one bit.

Not only were the bees the ultimate realization of our utilitarian artwork, they demonstrated the proof our our theory: that swarm capture as an art is indeed an effective propaganda tool towards the radical transformation ofour cities and suburbs into heroic arenas for natural stewardship and conservation ecology. The City and Farmer’s Market leadership were charmed to be sure. And the Circle of Bees most definitely gained a certain local notoriety.

The artwork would not have been possible to deploy without the climbing experience and natural engineering dilettante of all-talented director Antoine who is a bit of a force of nature at times. All around it was a grand success and we are incredibly lucky to live in a a community where such projects are supported competently and by so many intelligence and kind-hearted people.

In the days following the installation the hives captured two more swarms, and 3 more occupied the hive we left dangling in the days following the de-installation. In total we caught 9 swarms in Davis, and with the swarm capture network barely yet deployed!

It seems these space invaders will accomplish their design and hopefully eliminate entirely occupation of walls, ceilings, and chimneys in Davis. We
definitely owe some thanks for design, construction, and management of this achievement as well, including Antoine again, Derek Downey, Eric Frankenstein, Florent Petit, Jamie Angello, Tom Patton, Paul Bugni and Liz Ernst, Eli Sarnat, and many others.


Bees occupying walls, ceilings, and chimneys?

Speaking of wall and ceiling extraction, we did many, many of these infestation removals last summer with the inimitable community angel Jamie Buffington who is a true friend and Bee Charmer and deserves the finest award CoB is capable of giving (still thinking on what that is, any ideas?). It was a bumper year for swarms and I’ll say that this great swarm capture behemoth may not have been completed had I not been motivated by dreams of never again having to wrestle a poor colony from a stucco’d sheet rock’d fiberglass’d catastrophe!

Even so we are getting pretty darn good at these although I say so myself!

There were some sad, unnecessary exterminations last summer and I won’t go into details, but it was simply not possible to rescue every colony. Again, we expect the swarm capture network to fix this issue.

Are bees swarming your hedge or picket-fence? Have they colonized your house, barn, fast-food franchise, or corporate office-space? Do not fear. Text or call your local BeeCharmer Christian (510) 400-8443.

Working with youth and schools

Our Girl Scout Leader Quinn received her gold award for work on our swarm capture network placement with schools. Many thanks to her and her great family for their support.

Regarding schools, it’s an interesting conundrum we face in convincing our educational edifice to help themselves with regards to swarm management. As most folks know Circle of Bees works with the Bee Charmers to develop student educational opportunities. We hope to see our swarm capture network integrated into a “living classroom education” experience for students of every age. That way our city honeybees are well managed at the same time that a good culture of pollinator stewardship develops strength and sophistication in our city space.

With this thought in mind, and in consideration of the fact that about every year we get an emergency call from a local school with a big hefty swarm on a tree, or worse yet: an infestation in a wall. However the regional district did not see things our way and prohibited placement of our swarm capture hives on campus. This is quite odd yet entirely expected in our line of work: while there are many schools with active beekeeping programs on campus, and Davis is an ag town with deep ag roots, and there are many quantifiable benefits to natural education, and etc assorted pro pollinator on campus arguments exit, the proposal from a self-described “punk-rock” beekeeping operation of the placement of a hive intended to attract bees on campus just don’t sit well in the traditional school district board member gullet!

We totally understand that. Yet we ought to have a good strategy to improve the situation. We are working on one, especially including our partnership with the Bee Charmers, a much less hyperbolistic, senstionalistic operation, to develop educational opportunities in schools. What this looks like to me is an echo of the reception we might receive often in the world outside and so we welcome the cautionary response. This is the hard work of radically transforming our civilization towards permaculture principles by creating adventurous, fun, visionary ideas about what city space and culture can be like built around natural conservation and stewardship. Culture doesn’t like radical change, even if it is required to prevent mass calamity.

Curious about art, education, science & tech or connecting with the non-profit organization? It’s best to email Ellyn: ellyn@circleofbees.org.


New online location for CoB

The artwork and award were the highlights of an all around great year, however we have a lot more up our sleeve, and a lot more happened than I’ve told here. For one thing our new website is live. Here it is: www.circleofbees.org (note the sexy new .org TLD!) The home page will become a sophisticated web application bit-by-bit in time (code named “Tesseract”). However,we are also now building a large web document containing the many ideas and directions of the CoB – a great pollinating ideological octopus to be sure!!! The site design is “brutalist”: extremely clear and simple, text based, semantically interactive, and built on high-level tech that is either open-source or that we have ourselves developed.

Here is good example: a page about our past, present, and future in Davis!!! I encourage folks to read our closing chores list in town for a laugh.

Not to get too technical, but it is the third and final iteration of our web schema. Each iteration developed both our public brand identity as a non-profit corporation as well as our ideas about successful state-of-the-art media and technology strategy. CoB is afterall prime non-profit beneficiary of the technical work of the Raw Power Apiary (more on that another time) and therefore a bit of a tech project.

We will have loads more content soon.

The last word

Please everyone stay well and remember that living within our means with respect to the biosphere is something we are all going to have to come to terms with in the near future, one way or another. So here’s to anything that feels right-as-rain about quaranteen, and we hope everyone is taking good care and living cautiously but optimistically through the pandemic.

The bees of course haven’t got the memo, and could not practice social distancing if they tried! I caught the first cuddly swarm of the year a few days ago, pic attached!

That about sums it up folks! Thank you all for ongoing support and listening ears!


Special thanks to Yolo County District 2 Supervisor Don Saylor and City of Davis Chief Innovation Officer Diane Parro for replacing legislation prohibiting backyard beekeeping (which no one obeyed) with good, common-sense rules for practical sub/urban beekeeping in Yolo County!



Circle of Bees is a Cool Davis partner and a member of the Cool Davis Coalition. For more information on how to join the Coalition to simply to attend one of our meetings, visit our Coalition webpage.