A mix of cascara, maple trees, wild flowers and brush line the gravel driveway up to Thomas Mani and Karla Broschinski’s small residence in the Bald Hills area. Tall trees canvas much of the driveway.
In front of their house, a small group of 25 hives sit in a partially shaded clearing. Somewhere around 1.25 million bees buzz about, creating a calming hum heard around the 40-acre property. A small, plastic beach chair sits in the shade near the cluster of hives.
“That’s where I sit, smoke my pipe and listen to the bees,” Mani says in a thick Swiss accent. “There’s nothing more calming.”
Mani and Broschinski are the co-owners of Bee Forever Apiary, a local business providing hive servicing to local keepers, consultation and a plethora of locally-harvested bee products.
The business is a frequent presence at the Yelm Farmers Market. Their business cards read “Beekeeper for Hire. You own the bees. We do the work!”
And that’s exactly what they do.
“It is like having a pet. It is kind of underestimated oftentimes. So I started this beekeeper-for hire service in 2008,” Mani said. “The idea is that people have bee hives on their property, but I do all the work. I go there, check the bees, maintain the bees, do the honey harvesting.”
It’s not only the services people pay for. Often, clients will shadow Mani as he goes about caring for the bees. They walk away with greater expertise.
“That’s really the idea. Bee Forever means I want to make sure we have bees in our region because as long as we keep gardens, we need pollinators and so this was always the idea behind it,” Mani said.
A hive of honeybees will typically pollinate plants within a 3-mile radius, Mani said. And the benefits of hosting honeybees are countless — larger fruit and vegetable yields, robust growth in plants, a healthier ecosystem and, of course, sweet all-natural honey.
Mani and Broschinski serve clients throughout the southern tip of Puget Sound, and their expertise has helped local keepers to pollinate thousands of acres of land.
They say that’s important because bee habitats around the region are frail and always in jeopardy of being lost. Roughly 32 viruses constantly threaten local hives. The region’s humid environment doesn’t help, Broschinski said.
The two are also members of the Olympia Beekeepers Association, a nonprofit organization that supports education, training and support for regional beekeepers. The group teaches a lot of aspects of honeybee sustainability, Mani said.
The bee community helps them keep bee breeding local, Mani said. That’s important because it separates the local need from industrialized beekeeping, which is non-sustainable.
The two met each other in 1999 at a Ramtha School of Enlightenment event in Germany. Broschinski bought land in Yelm in 1992 with eventual plans of living off the land and “off the grid.”
The two later eloped and moved to the United States soon after. In 2007, Mani started giving beekeeping classes and later became dedicated to the art of keeping.
In just a few years, the two were able to make a full-time job out of their passion of creating sustainable bee products — which includes honey, pollen, candles and soaps — and help sustain bee habitats.
Broschinski said honey is so essential to modern civilization. The floral-nectar based byproduct can even be used for minor cuts and injuries, she said.
“Honey is a very healing product. You should have honey in your first aid kit,” she said.
Today, the duo care for and operate 53 hives of their own in three locations and continue to develop their craft.
For more information on their services or products, visit their website at www.bee4ever.com or call them at 360-894-6038.