Create Buzz as a Beekeeper

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If it’s possible to backyard, then you can be a garden beekeeper, states Bee Thinking proprietor Matt Reed. Based on his experience with clients in Portland, Oregon, he’s found that chickens have become the gateway animals to bees. “If you already have a chicken coop,” he states, “there is a high chance that you are on your way to becoming a beekeeper.”

Location has not been a deterrent to urban beekeepers, Reed states. “Bees are amazingly effective and resilient; when it’s cold, they clump together and can manage their internal temperature. Men and women in New York City have apiaries in their rooftops throughout winter, and a few people here in Oregon have them in their balconies; you will find backyard hives from the White House and in addition to the Paris Opera House.”

Honeybees pollinate a third of the country’s food supply and are critical to our ecosystem. And since the amount of bees nationwide decreased recently due to viruses and pathogens, an increasing number of individuals have been starting their own apiaries at home and increasing the bee population, one hive at one time.

Reed, who holds beekeeping courses at his store, outlines five essential steps for people who are thinking about getting their own apiaries at home.

Bee Thinking

1. Talk with your neighbors and check local beekeeping ordinances.
“In Portland, as long as the beehive is not within 150 feet of the property line, you really don’t need to check with your neighbors. But usually, the notice is appreciated by neighbors. It’s also a good opportunity for everyone to get more educated about bee colonies: to understand that honeybees only sting when their honey-making assignment is in jeopardy, and that many occasions, the stingers that people complain about are not actually honeybees — they are hornets or wasps,” says Reed.

Sabine Axt, beekeeper and member of the San Mateo Beekeepers Guild in California, also indicates that you let neighbors know about your plans. “You should always point the hive entrance away from your neighbors’ property. That way, the hive is not in the direct flight path of the honeybees. The bees will still visit your neighbors whenever they have a pool or fountain or if they have food sources, like flowers or trees, which explains why I recommend coming over to your neighbors using a jar full of honey to sweeten the deal,” states Axt.

Bee Thinking

2. Assess your house atmosphere.
Once you’ve decided that beekeeping is lawful in your area and you’ve addressed some neighbours’ concerns, ask your self:

Where will you maintain your bees?
Has everyone in your household signed off on with an apiary?
Has everyone in the household been tested for bee-sting allergies?
If you own pets in the house, have you spoke to the vet regarding the high chance that your pets will step on a few bees?

“Our guild has some rather young beekeeper members; families can surely learn the beekeeping trade for a team. I believe it’s wonderful to involve children in beekeeping, to have them learn the amazing workings of nature firsthand and convey respect for these extremely well organized and cute creatures — without which we would loose a good deal of our sources of nourishment,” states Axt.

3. Educate yourself.
Look for a regional beekeepers association and check its site for local bee clubs and regional beekeeping organizations. Read up on beekeeping: The more you educate yourself on bees and maintaining apiaries, the safer everyone will be your apiary is up and buzzing.

North Shore Beekeeper’s Association

4. Get the necessary equipment.
Reed recommends that novices receive a hive tool, a hive stand, a smoker, a complete coat with veil and gloves and a bee brush. It is good to wear long socks in which.

“You don’t want to learn what it feels like to have a bee creep your boot up and into your pant leg,” warns Axt, who occasionally uses rubber bands to close her pant bottoms and also stop bees from moving inside her clothes.

This picture shows Sabine moving her recently acquired bees from their temporary home in the nuc box (a mini-hive that can be picked up in a box containing a pound or a lot of bees, a laying queen and frames with brood, honey and pollen) into their brand new supers or honey-collecting house.

“I’m wearing my coat with a veiled hat and gloves. I’m also holding a typical hive tool that most beekeepers use,” states Axt.

5. Get active!
Seasoned beekeepers usually recommend starting with a nuc. There are hundreds and hundreds of bee kinds out there, and a few are more effective pollinators than many others; not all of bees are honey bees. “But if you are a beginner, it’s really good to start with docile honeybees, commonly called mason bees,” says Reed.

Axt, who describes herself as a “bee steward,” supports that beekeeping is a rewarding and infinitely interesting avocation. “There’s so much to love about bees: They are resilient, so they work hard, you can keep them in your garden or rooftop, and they create the sweetest thing — honey”

ers, tell us Do you own a garden or rooftop apiary? What are your tips for beginning beekeepers? Share your ideas and pictures in the Remarks section below.

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