Passage of a beekeeper – Jim Bach

Jim Bach working the bees

Jim Bach working the bees

It is with a heavy heart that I let you all know of the passing of our secretary Jim Bach.

Jim had many things to his credit. His list of accomplishments is long, and and here is but a brief glimpse.

Jim began beekeeping in 1969 when he collected a swarm in a Seattle neighborhood. Jim became the local four county state seasonal bee inspector for two seasons. Jim also formed a bee supply company that he operated with a partner for four years, and conducted a bee school each year graduating 120 to 150 beekeepers.

The Department of Agriculture’s Chief Apiarist position became available in May of 1977 and Jim served in that position until 2000 (he was the last state apiarist in Washington State) followed by five years as a pesticide incident investigator, he then happily retired. Jim’s main interest was in studying thousands of colonies and their diverse behaviors, colony shrinkage in the fall and winter, queen attractiveness by her retinue of workers, and of course over-wintering success and colony size in the spring. Jim served as the Secretary of the Washington State Beekeepers Association and the Treasurer of the Western Apicultural Society until his recent passing.

He mentored many through the years, and did it with a smile. He was a gentleman that after spending time in his presence you looked forward to the next time you would cross his path. I told the Board that I would need to lean on them during my first year as president. No one bore the brunt of this more than Jim. I asked his counsel on many different issues. He always gave me how he felt. It was never colored by what he thought I wanted to hear. There are not words to express how much of an impact that honesty is worth.

We all measure time with calendars, and clocks, but it is what we do with the time we have. Do we go through life trying to find our way, or try to help others find theirs? Do we worry about ourselves, or do we mentor? Jim knew the answers.

I only know a small part of Jim’s life. I can tell you that he did have love in his life; his wife Fran, beekeeping, and teaching. The positive impacts of his mentoring will go on for years to come. He mentored me in bees, and I will pass that on. He took advantage of his knowledge to teach across the state. Jim will be remembered for many things in his short life, but maybe best for always being himself. It would be hard to do better than that. Jim, life well lived, and a job well done.


Mark Emrich


Washington State Beekeepers Association



  1. Kim Redmond says:

    A beautiful tribute to a man who made a lasting impact on so many. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered. Our thanks to Jim for the many ways he advanced beekeeping in Washington State.

  2. Thank you, Mark, for a gracious tribute. Jim is irreplaceable for the many reasons you noted. Here in Lewis County, our first beekeeping association president, Bob Harris, brought Jim to give a beekeeping symposium that led directly to the establishment of our association. From that time forward, he kept a mentoring eye on us with the candidness you point out. I will miss his emails greatly. I know it is early, but is WSBA planning a commemoration? A scholarship in Jim’s name would be an appropriate tribute.
    Susanne Weil
    Secretary, Lewis County Beekeepers’ Association

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