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Our Team

Nancy Petrin
Board Member

Nancy Petrin began Zen practice in 1996 through the Organic Farm and Garden Apprenticeship at Green Gulch Farm, where she lived and practiced for nine years. She served as head student (shuso) with City Center Abiding Abbot Ed Sattizahn in the fall of 2014 and serves currently as head of practice. She resides at San Francisco Zen Center with her partner. Having raised her young adult daughter in the Bay Area, Zen, and Waldorf communities, Nancy is especially enjoying her work with new parents as a postpartum and night doula.

Dr. Gary Pace
Board Chair & Treasurer

I am very pleased to serve as a Board Member for Apis Arborea, in service of ecological restoration through re-wilding honeybees.

My main interests lie in human and ecological health.  Having served as a front-line medical doctor in underserved communities for 25 years, I know well the impact of our deteriorating biosphere on vulnerable populations.  Combining these professional health experiences with some time living in permaculture and other collective action communities has fostered a deep interest in working to find healthy solutions to the mess we are in and to supporting the structural pillars that will keep our biosphere functioning.  Michael’s relationship to the pollinating bees, and the organization he has founded, will be a potent force for regeneration of the ecosystem, and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this noble, visionary effort.

Georgi Stoev
Board Member

Georgi is a traveler along the paths of technology and life with experience in architecture, engineering, mentoring, emotional intelligence, and the sorts… Interested in technology, people, and life fundamentals applied in technology. At present, he is a Senior Network Architect in for the last 9 years. His responsibilities include researching the field of networking, communications, cloud, and security and charting the long-term strategy for the company in these fields. Some years ago he got a TreeNest in his garden and as he half-jokingly half seriously tells people – the bees started keeping us. He has explored different dimensions of bees and is convinced that they hold a key piece to our growth and understanding of the world and ourselves.

Michael Joshin Thiele
Founder & President

Michael’s pioneering approach to apiculture and honeybee conservation has appeared in national and international magazines, books and films. He has presented his work at Harvard University & New York University, consulted for the USDA, and in 2006 developed the organization Gaia Bees to advance biodynamic practices in apiculture. 

In 2017 he founded Apis Arborea to preserve the life and resiliency of honeybees through wilding, that is, the promotion of self-willed ecological processes, and the use of a holistic, system- and science-based framework in working with bees. He offers workshops and training in the U.S. and internationally.

Michael was born and educated in Germany. He lives with his family, and an infinity of bees, in the oak woodlands of Northern California.

Cheyanna Bone
Board Member & Program Coordinator

Cheyanna is passionate about facilitating dynamic connections between humans, honey bees and the earth.  She is devoted to supporting honey bees to reclaim their vitality and wild nature by bringing the innate wisdom of the Hive Being more deeply into human awareness.

Cheyanna met Michael at his first Zeidler log hive class in 2017 and knew she had met a “kindred bee spirit” at work.  She is enjoying collaborating with Michael to support the work rewilding of honeybees locally and globally. Cheyanna lives in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California where she works closely with her local community using natural, biodynamic and rewilding apiculture practices.


Maya Pace
Board Member; Outreach & Biz development

Maya is from the redwoods of Northern California and grew up amongst a group of people dedicated to community and service.  She is currently an MTS student in her final semester of Harvard Divinity School exploring questions of land, faith, and community. She comes to the Divinity School after working as the founding Chief Program Officer of Lead For America, an organization that supports community revitalization by training and placing young people back in their hometowns. Maya has a background in facilitation and conflict resolution, and recently completed an internship as a hospital chaplain in southern Minnesota. She seeks to bring her love of creating transformative experiences to her studies and her work. She is so grateful to be supporting the beautiful efforts of Apis Arborea.

Leslie Thiele
Board Member & Secretary

Leslie lives with her husband Michael and two children in Sebastopol.  Leslie has a B.A. in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She studied Zen Buddhism in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi at San Francisco Zen Center, both at Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery where she lived in residential practice for ten years. Leslie currently works on the Marketing team for Enso Village, the first Zen-inspired senior living community being built in Healdsburg CA. 

Scott McDougall
Board Member

Scott brings over two decades of experience in nonprofit fundraising, having contributed to organizations such as the San Francisco Zen Center, Ceres Community Project, and, most recently, serving as the interim development director at Daily Acts.  His journey in the art of Tea ceremony led him to the Urasenke Chado Gakkuen in Kyoto, Japan, where he obtained his teaching credentials. For fifteen years, he shared his expertise at the Urasenke Foundation in San Francisco and at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. Additionally, Scott received lay ordination in the Soto Zen tradition at San Francisco Zen Center.

Conner McElroy
Staff Member

Conner’s experience with honey bees lies primarily in the field of animal husbandry. His work experience has consisted of the management of small, minimally invasive apiaries with the health of the honey bee as the center focus. His work with Apis Arborea is that of monitoring wild honey bee nests living in trees. He embraces the opportunity to work with honey bees in both the field of animal husbandry and wilding. He graduated from Prescott College with a Bachelor of Arts and Humanities and is currently integrating his former passion for ceramics into his current pursuit of woodworking.

Professor Boris Claude Bar
Advisory Board

Professor of Entomology at UC Riverside.

My idea is to help build a new field of research, which I refer to as evolutionary proteomics. Evolutionary proteomics will not only aim to understand evolutionary processes at the protein level but will also attempt to quantify variations in proteomic profiles and investigate their consequences for natural and sexual selection. Such knowledge will be of fundamental significance, but will also be applied in new breeding programs for honeybee stock improvement in collaboration with beekeepers in California and Western Australia. My overall goal is to develop a scientifically-guided breeding program that selects for honeybee lineages that are tolerant against diseases and more versatile in coping with environmental stressors.

UC Riverside 

Scott F. Gilbert
Advisory Board

Scott F. Gilbert is a developmental biologist who has written textbooks in developmental biology and ecological developmental biology. Recently retired from Swarthmore College, where he taught and pursued research for 35 years. One of Scott’s research foci concerns developmental symbiosis,  the phenomena wherein symbiotic microbes, and host cells facilitate each other’s development. He is also interested in the ways that another type of symbiosis, domestication, may be facilitated by developmental changes and bias further developmental changes. Scott has also been a Finland Distinguished Professor at the University of Helsinki and has participated in Vatican panels concerning embryology and religion. In 2016, he presented a lecture on developmental biology to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Dr. Benjamin Rutschmann
Advisory Board

Benjamin is a honeybee researcher who works on honeybee ecology with a special focus on colonies living in the wild, their foraging resources, and their nesting sites. He got his Ph.D. from the University of Würzburg in 2022 and is now continuing his studies on wild colonies supported by a scholarship from the Graduate school of life sciences in Würzburg. In his first study in 2018, he did pioneering research on colonies living in two protected forest areas in Germany. He did research abroad including in Poland, in South Africa, and in India. His research was awarded several scholarships and research grants.  He is one of the founding members of the BEEtree-Monitor ( and of the non-profit research association “Bees in Trees e.V.”. Besides honeybee science, he is interested in sustainability, especially community-supported agriculture and urban gardening. (Picture courtesy of Ingo Arndt)

Elizabeth Candelario
Advisory Board

Elizabeth Candelario works at the nexus of food, agriculture, and climate change, and is most passionate about uniting brands and nonprofits to activate social mission causes in innovative ways that benefit both.  She works throughout the USA and Europe via her USA-based consultancy Studio Airstream and as a partner with Merika Advisory in the UK.  Elizabeth’s client list includes NGOs, grassroots non-profits, and companies focused on organizational development, brand development, and strategic planning. Education and communication are a big focus of Elizabeth’s work.  She has been a speaker at national food and environmental conferences and has published articles and written website and social media content on agriculture and climate change.  Prior to Elizabeth’s current consulting roles, she served as Managing Director of Demeter USA, the nation’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farms and products.  Over her eleven years of service, Elizabeth had the unforgettable experience of connecting brands to farms, working with many leading natural food companies to bring Biodynamic products to national retailer shelves, and fundamentally leveraging the marketplace to encourage the adoption of regenerative agriculture.

[email protected]

Jack & Hilary May
Advisory Board

Jack and his wife Hilary met while getting an MBA and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.  She founded and managed a management consulting company for 30 years while Jack jumped into international real estate development and finance.  While on a biking trip in South Australia they fell in love with Kangaroo Island where they purchased an environmentally sensitive sheep and cattle farm. That farm then became the Cygnet Park Sanctuary and an experimental center for their conservation ideas and a perfect test ground.  Eventually, Jack and Hilary created a new non-profit, BIO-R OZ, to carry on their dream.  BIO-R OZ today has more than 1000 volunteers working all over South Australia and continues to develop breakthrough conservation strategies.  Jack and Hilary leverage their business experience to help conservation efforts in California, Arizona, and South Australia and hope to create long-term sustainable change.  They live on a small farm in Sonoma County with a plethora of farm animals where they do their best to entertain friends with as nice a local cuisine as they can create.  Their farm does its best to be a culinary art refuge in the current crazy world.  For fun follow them on Instagram at backyardterroir

Pepa Reimann
Creative Director

Originally from Germany, Pepa Reimann is a creative director and designer with a passion for branding, design and visual language. She helps organizations and individuals launch, rejuvenate and expand their brands in meaningful ways. Sharing her design experience to brand and launch Apis Arborea is her contribution to support and protecting honeybees.

Cameron Nielsen
Documentary Filmmaker & Collaborator

Cameron Nielsen is a documentary filmmaker. His journey with bees started from a young age under the mentorship of Michael Thiele. He explores the question, “how can you engage people with the importance of honeybees?” through interdisciplinary perspectives on ecology and storytelling. During his undergraduate studies at Quest University Canada, he created a short documentary, The Good of the Hive. His short documentary film ‘Rewilding Honeybees‘ won multiple awards at film festivals across the US. He is currently enrolled in the documentary program at the School of Journalism at UC Berkely.