Laurie Yarborough has lived in Reno for over 40 yrs, coming from Pittsburgh, Pa. She and her husband own Sierra Service Stations and USAFleetSolutions.
Laurie is the Secretary of the Biggest Little Bee City USA committee as well as the President of Help Save the Bees Foundation and is a long time bee lover and supporter of organic gardening. She and her daughter are beginning beekeepers and love making honey and beeswax inspired products.
Laurie is also a Birth Doula and Reiki Practitioner as well as an extensive reader and researcher of energy healing, holistic health and wellness as well as researching bees and bee health.
Ray Hopper has been keeping bees off and on since 1982. He says that in those days, beekeeping was much easier, with the biggest threat to bees being a bacterial disease called American Foulbrood. With a reasonable amount of vigilance, only occasional colony losses were encountered.
Since then, new pesticides, new diseases, and diminishing forage are all taking their toll on the bees. Over the past 30 years or so, beekeepers across the nation have experience an average of 30% losses every year. The 2021 season suffered 45% bee colony loss nationwide!
Hopper says that humans, honey bees and plants co-evolved over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, developing a kind of three way inter-dependency. Plants and food crops depend on the bees for pollination; humans and bees both depend on plants for food; and the bees have now come to depend on human management to thrive. And, because the planet is still evolving, climate change, vanishing bee forage acreage and other dynamics means we humans need to strengthen our relationship with the bees, to ensure the continued availability of our favorite and most nourishing and favorite foods.
Ray now considers himself a hobbyist beekeeper, with just a couple beehives in his backyard. Yet his passion for bees has inspired him to dedicate his life to help the plight of the bee. He sees a future where the inter-dependency of humans, plants and honey bees flourishes worldwide.
Hopper is a Vietnam Veteran, having served in the US Air Force from 1968 to 1972.
Tracy began beekeeping after a casual conversation in a professional development meeting. Out of nowhere the words, “I’ve always wanted to try beekeeping” came from her mouth, and a friend at her table took the bait. The two of them have been keeping bees ever since, for almost ten years. Though she’s had her ups and downs--the abject grief at losing her hives sticks out as the low point--her bees have brought plenty of happy and incredulous moments. She does not believe the learning will ever cease and enjoys seeing the hobby in a whole new way through her granddaughter’s eyes.
Tracy spent 30 years as a high school English teacher, retiring to work as paralegal for a short time. She is now fully retired with the energy to work with bees in a whole new way: with the good people at the Help Save the Bees Foundation. She says she cherishes the gifts the bees give each and every one of us, and her respect for them and all pollinators grows exponentially each year.
Read Tracy's article, "The Keeper"
David Duffié is an entrepreneur and world adventurer who aspires to help make the planet a better place.
David was raised in New Jersey. After earning his Electrical Engineering degree from Virginia Tech in 1984, he became an early pioneer in the fiber optic industry. As an entrepreneur in San Diego he created several telecom-related start-up companies and was awarded two patents. He also became involved in underwater hockey tournaments and sand sculpting festivals, working on many large sculpting projects throughout the US and Europe.
David enjoyed world travels and decided to make Lake Tahoe, Incline Village, Nevada, his home in 2000. David quickly embraced the natural beauty of this Sierra playground, appreciating the numerous Tahoe lifestyle activities including backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking and skiing/snowboarding. He also enjoys artistic pursuits playing bass in a jazz/funk/rock band, snow/sand sculpting, and photography. David is currently a Real Estate Professional with Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty, where he helps both buyers and sellers realize their dreams and goals. In 2011 he helped create, design and raise funds for the public Disc Golf Course in Incline Village.
David has continued to be involved with local entrepreneurs on renewable energy and food sustainability projects and startups, where he first met Ray Hopper. Through Ray’s passion for bees and beekeeping, David has gained a renewed appreciation of bees by helping Ray with his beekeeping processes. David is honored to assist Ray, the bees, and others who want to help as a Director for the non-profit, HelpSaveTheBeesFoundation.org.
As a child, I grew up with two brothers who found a swarm of bees at Boy Scout Camp and brought it home in a cardboard box. When the bees started eating the cardboard my mother suggested they invest in one beehive which we all assembled in our living room. Over the years between elementary school and college our family became interested in collecting swarms, building an observation hive that was tubed, via screen in a window in our house. I worked on a Girl Scout badge in beekeeping and also helped at what subsequently was 100 hives by the time my brothers and I went to college. My older brother has a PhD in Entomology with a specialty in bees. He travels the world helping communities’ correct issues with their apiaries and he lectures in Europe and the US.
In 2019, 2020 I began working on a Master Gardener Certification from UNR Agriculture Department during Covid. I took online classes and finished my year long certification in 2021. During this time one sector of training was on insects, and I found the Xerces Society site online and researched Bee City USA. I became fascinated with this program and decided that Reno would be a wonderful place to have this national certification since they already had a dozen pesticide free parks. I began a calling campaign and met Ray Hopper who was instrumental in recruiting Laurie Yarborough and as a threesome we began the process of certifying Reno as a Bee City USA. We had national approval prior to approval of the City of Reno City Council. Help Save the Bees Foundation volunteered to underwrite the Biggest Little Bee City USA (BLBC). By April 2022 we were finally on the Reno City Council agenda, approved and the annual fee was underwritten by the City of Reno.
Laurie grew up a farm girl. She was raised with an appreciation and awe of nature and all the variables of it. Being connected to the wild was a foundation that helped build her. Growing up there was always lots of imagination and a sense of adventure with her little sister and a critter tagging along.
The first 8 years of her life were spent off-grid on an old family farm and homestead nestled deep in the Plumas Forest. In 1993 her parents parted ways from the family's homestead and moved Laurie and her younger sister to Paradise Valley, NV onto a 800+ acre working ranch. They called this home until 2001 when they packed up and headed to Reno where Laurie finished high school. Laurie fell in love with Reno and has been here ever since.
Raising bees had been a part of the family homestead since it was settled in the early 1800's, a bee keeping cabin was the second building to be built on the farm and later her parents kept bees in Paradise Valley. So when the idea of getting a hive started nagging at Laurie, it did not seem like a foreign idea, she had spent a great deal of her life around bees. Laurie got her first hive in May of 2021 placing it on her laundry room roof. Although her garden was flourishing with the presence of the tiny fuzzy butt critters and everyone seemed to be loving life in the Secret little garden, she needed help. She had quickly realized there was far more to caring for these challenging little miracles then she had originally assumed. A friend of a friend put her into contact with Ray Hopper. In hopes of obtaining the much needed guidance she reached out to Ray, he agreed and has been a huge help in the steep learning curve of bees.
Ray introduced Laurie to the Help Save The Bees Foundation. She was thrilled and honored to be elected to the board in January of 2022. She has felt incredibly blessed to be connected to such a wonderful organization and is looking forward to watching and participating in the continued growth of it.
Melinda's bio is pending.
Eleanor Yarborough is honored to join the amazing team of Help Save the Bees Foundation. With the help of so many, she launched a new initiative to build a social media brand and bring awareness and education to the public on a whole new platform. She led the “Buy Local Honey” campaign seen in September (National Honey Month), and is excited to continue this work in promoting and inspiring.
When not obsessing over pollinators, Elle is an emerging theatre artist and trains daily in voice, dance, and acting. Can’t wait to see what comes next!