Friday, March 13, 2009

The bees knees

In my never ending quest to undertake every hobby in the world (and to diversify our urban farmstead), I took a beekeeping class through the U of M extension last weekend. Steve gave it to me as a present for christmas. There were 175 other people in the class who decided to give up their weekend and devote 16 hours to becoming an apiarist. The 16 hours were particularly hard for those of us with short attention spans. We learned pretty much everything you would need to learn in order to start up your apiary. One problem, amongst many, for us to begin beekeeping is that it isn't legal in Minneapolis yet. Ordinance meetings are being held in April and will hopefully lift restrictions.

As many of you know, bees benefit the ecosystem in numerous ways: fruit trees bear more fruit, gardens thrive and everything looks more lush- thanks to bees. Basically about half way through the second day I realized that we just don't have the time to devote to the 80,000+ bees we would have. We talked about about colony collapse disorder; the cure is not known. Theories range from mites, to pesticides to cell phone radiation. In general, there are a host of things that could go wrong in the hive that would destroy it like, varroa mites, bacterical and fungal diseases and Nosema ceranae (dysentery disease).

If we were to keep bees, the only place that would be suitable (due to our fairly small yard) would be on the roof above the family room. A perfect spot because it is in the sun and up high, thus we could hang out in our yard without the nuisance of thousands of bees flying around. A problem though, is that we don't have a water source. They need a watering hole and hose water won't do. It has to be rain water that they can suck out of something, like mud or wood. If we were to make something like a basin, we would have a problem with mosquitoes.

An interesting fact, among many, that I learned is that you can't be within 2.5-3 miles of another beekeeper because then there won't be enough pollen and nectar for all the bees (although this is apparently less of a problem for urban beekeepers). There isn't a google map of beekeepers though, so I'm not quite sure how you would figure that out.

A hive box and some frames. just a demo, actual bees are kind of hibernating at this time of year.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this little cutie who was hanging out after class during a part of the session where local beekeepers came to do demos. They showed us wax candles they had made, we sampled honey, etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow...great read and photo's.

mcmom