Introducing our Portland Riverfront Apiary!

Introducing our Portland Riverfront Apiary!

Posted by:

Jacobsen Salt Co.

Posted on:

Jan 28, 2022

(Hive installation day, Spring 2021)

This past spring, the Jacobsen Co. Hive Program installed 14 hives along Portland's southwest riverfront at Zidell Yards. Nestled under the Ross Island Bridge along a recently rewilded section of the Willamette River, this setting is already proving to be a miraculous refuge for honey bees. We have big dreams for what this urban apiary can become and are overjoyed to be sharing the inaugural harvest of our Portland Riverfront Raw Honey with you all. Here's more on why we chose this location and what is planned:

What is Zidell Yards?

Zidell Yards, or Zidell Shipyards, has a long, complex history on the Southwest Portland riverfront. Post-WWII, the property was home to an international ship and barge deconstructing and rebuilding plant. In 2011, in response to decades of contamination, it became the site of a major multiyear environmental remediation effort. 

What is an apiary? Why put one here? 

An apiary is a collection of bee hives in any given area, or a more fanciful way to say bee-yard or bee farm. 

A major piece of the Zidell Yards remediation project involved planting over 10,000 native plants, including a 2016 planting of flowering natives on more than 30 acres of riverfront property. The natural resources within this rewilded site, such as abundant water, make it an obvious choice in supporting healthy bee colonies and for establishing this apiary. These flowering plants are what sustain the bees for most of the summer, while the river provides a place for the bees to drink and cool off on warm days. 

(Catching a feral colony right along the riverfront last June!)

By placing an apiary in a more centralized and public space, we also hope to invite more members of our community to study bees just doing what they do. One of the goals of the Jacobsen Co. Hive Program is to foster curiosity and shared support for critical pollinator populations (not just honeybees!). This site allows us to hopefully do just that through educational and observational opportunities.

What's Next? 

In 2022, we plan to grow our apiary from 14 to 20 hives, host a spring planting of native flowering habitat, and use the apiary for more outreach. We held our first event in May 2021 with Wonderfolk, hosting a cohort from its Our Naturehood program, which aims to introduce students to various environmental and sustainability initiatives happening right around the city. 

(The coolest cohort, our May 2021 event with Wonderfolk)

"It was an opportunity unlike anything our students had done before–to stand amongst beehives in downtown Portland and learn about their importance in food systems and ecology," said Mark Bennett, Wonderfolk Executive Director. "Our students had no idea what bees could mean for the world around them, or the beauty of their social systems, and constantly referenced it as a highlight of their summer."

Since then, we've hosted groups in person and online, including from retirement communities, elementary school classrooms, and corporate offices. Building out this apiary and sharing our beekeeping philosophy within our community is a privilege, and we can't wait to see where the bees take us. 

Do you have a group interested in visiting our apiary or have another question? Email