Meet Burbank mom, business owner, and beekeeper, Carrie Diaz. Her love of bees and background as an entrepreneur has developed into a passion project of hive management in Burbank and beyond.
Diaz is the owner of Best Friend Central, a women’s clothing boutique in Magnolia Park, that blends wellness and fashion by offering personal styling services that improve and grow positive mental health. The bright yellow store front can’t be missed, and it’s not the only yellow thing in her life right now.
“Becoming a beekeeper was more of a calling than an origin story,” said Diaz in an episode of myBurbank’s “Women of Burbank” podcast. Her love of bees was evident and she consumed as much info about the pollinators that she could. “I was reading about bees, getting bee tattoos, learning about them…as soon as I took my first step, it snowballed from there.”
Diaz then began listening to beekeeping podcasts, checking out books from the Burbank public libraries, spending months training and in mentorships, and is now currently in a Master Beekeeping Program. Her experience has now allowed her to form a career in professional hive management, where she assists clients in hive setup, inspection, and helping the hive to thrive.
“Honey bees thrive in urban settings,” said Diaz who manages over 40 hives located from homes in Glendale to multi-story buildings in Tarzana. Each hive is inspected every seven to ten days in order to address and resolve any issues that arise. Do they need more food? Do they need more space? These are the questions Diaz must figure out when combing through the wooden frames of the bee boxes.
I shadowed Diaz when attending to her own hive here in Burbank. Her five and a half year old son is also a trained beekeeper and she helped him into his white bee suit and mesh face covering. The two of them have bonded over beekeeping together and its something special she gets to share with her son. “In all the professions, beekeepers live the longest. So I would say thats very valuable,” said Diaz about passing this art form onto him.
Covered from head to toe, Diaz lights the smoker and light grey puffs of smoke tantalize the bees, calming them so they don’t fly up and and around her as she separates the three stacked boxes from each other. They are heavy and full of buzzing bees, eggs, larva, pollen, nectar, and honey. She gently and slowly places them to the side, not just because they are around heave, weighting upwards of 50 lbs, but because she is very careful not to injure any members of the hive.
She pulls a rectangle frame out of the box and every square inch, from corner to corner, is built into a honeycomb of hundreds of perfectly prismatic hexagons. But each cell of the comb tells a different story. The cells are the lifeline of the hive. It’s their nursery, their food, their storage, their home.
A large selection of the cells are white and sealed off with wax, which means there is delicious, sweet, honey capped off underneath. The other cells are empty, or at least that’s what it looks like. Upon closer inspection, the cells each have a tiny white dot right in the middle. These are the eggs. Each cell has one egg, and as it grows it turns into a larva, and is sealed off as it grows into an adult bee. Parts of the honeycomb resemble more of a corn on the cob, but instead of kernels, the orange bumps hide a growing baby bee underneath.
Diaz wants to encourage more people to explore beekeeping and says you only need an area of five square feet to start. The bees leave to pollinate and forage, and some stay in the hive to work on dehydrating the nectar and taking care of the queen. Diaz is fascinated by the science of beekeeping and is making it her goal to help other keepers have a healthy and thriving hive.
Not only is she helping other beekeepers, Diaz has just launched the “Positive Vibes Bee Experience” here in Burbank. “Experience the positive energy charge and get buzzed on the buzz,” reads the tagline. For $75 per person you can spend ninety minutes geared up in a bee suit and learning about these fascinating insects first hand with Diaz at her hive. Not only is it fun, but being around bees has been known to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you have a love and respect for bees and want to get an up close and hands on approach to the world of beekeeping, the Positive Vibes Bee Experience is something you won’t want to miss. The experience delights all of your senses as the humming cadence of bees echoes around you and the smell of a fresh bakery tickles your nose from the “bee bread” pollen they make to feed their babies.
The experience includes all protective gear and tools and finishes with a honey-tasting straight from the hive itself. You can book it for up to six people, ages six and up, just email email@example.com to get started. To learn more about Carrie Diaz and her job as a beekeeper, listen to the “Women of Burbank” podcast here.