Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Backyard beekeeping 101

I've signed up for a couple of odd classes over the next few months. The first one, coming up this month, is Backyard Beekeeping 101 (the other one is City Goats 101) through Seattle Tilth. I'm not sure where things will lead after this class, but I am interested in finding out how to raise honeybees in your backyard, particularly in an urban setting.

Honeybees are an asset to the backyard gardener because they pollinate fruit trees, berries, fruiting vegetables and the like, plus they produce some tasty honey in the process. Since now is a great time to get started planning hives for the spring, I'm hoping this class will give me an idea of what to expect.

The class I'm taking covers the basic fundamentals of beekeeping, including equipment, parts of the hive, location, feeding and treating bees and seasonal management. The cool thing is that the class is taught by a beekeeper local to my neighborhood and he mentors several novice backyard beekeepers around Seattle. But here's the clincher - he owns the Ballard Bee Company - which provides a service I'm sure all of you will be jealous about once I tell you. Are you ready?

Through the Ballard Bee Company, you can essentially "borrow" a hive in your backyard. The owner of the company comes out each week to maintain it and do whatever bee-like things need to be done. At the end of the summer you get a share of the honey produced from your hives. So, if you are just starting out, you can learn from a master beekeeper, all on your own property!

I'm thinking that, even if I don't want to deal with all the bee maintenance myself, boarding bees for the summer is a cool way to get some pollination and honey in the process. I don't know how many other areas have this service, but I think it's pretty amazing.

Needless to say, I'll be sharing much more information about backyard beekeeping after my class so stay tuned. And, in the meantime, you can check out this guest post (by Karen O'Brien) that I hosted a while back by someone who has already taken the step to backyard beekeeping! And, if I do go for the bees, you can fully expect an episode about them on Crunchy Chicken TV!

I'll tell you about the City Goat class in another post...

14 comments:

Tiffany S. said...

We'll be hosting bees this summer through Ballard Bee Co. - can't wait. We have friends who have lots of extra hive stuff if you do decide to keep your own. They are very knowledgeable, and we got honey gifts for Xmas! Maybe see you at Tilth's Lawn to Lettuce class in the Spring - that's the one I'm most excited about!

Nonie said...

I am jealous. I'd 'borrow' a hive in a heartbeat. I wonder if I can find a service like that in the Bay Area ...

Enjoy your classes!

Suze said...

How very excellent. I am allergic to bees but would love to have a hive of Australian native bees as they don't sting. I seem to attract the little things and have even been stung in my sleep and in a fully screened hosue to boot. Recently a block of land was cleared just down the road and it was that of the loacl bee man. Real Estate won as our area is under redevelopment and I was saddened that his hives have left our area.

countrylivingmom said...

That is awesome. I wish there was such classes in our area. We are looking into beekeeping ourselves and hope to get going this year or next. Luckily, we have a friend nearby that has his own hive and he is willing to help us get started. I look forward to your updates!

Just trying to be green said...

I'm going to start bee keeping this year as well. One of the goals for this month in fact is ordering my top bar hive. I advise anyone considering keeping bees to look into the top bar hive. Lots of very interesting information out there.

I'm lucky, because although I live in the city, my mom lives on five acres and she's just as eager to keep bees as I am. So, they will be living with her, pollinating her raspberries and roses.

Aimee said...

I am jealous! I just bought a bunch of used equipment and hives, but no idea how to get started yet. Scared of bees, too. Oh well...

auntjone said...

Borrowing a hive sounds so cool! Bee keeping is fascinating, but since my husband is allergic to several varieties of the winged dears, I haven't put much effort into researching the hobby. Wicked pisser, because I do love honey and having it straight from your own backyard would be divine.

Robj98168 said...

I keep mason bees- That count???

motheralice said...

I love bees. Wonder if they have the hive borrowing in Ohio? Have to check.. what a great idea!

Sharlene said...

That is just too cool. I would consider doing that if I didn't have three year olds. Somehow I don't think think three year olds and bees are the best idea.... That and my 6'5" husband is terrified of flying insects so he would probably move out. I guess I will just live my bee dreams through you.

Donna said...

Awesome that you are taking that class. I took a beekeeping class and it was so interesting and rewarding! Haven't gotten my bees yet but the info we learned in class was taught by a man who has been a beekeeper for over 30 years. You go girl!

Emily said...

Hey guys, I’m doing an article on the Ballard Bee Company for MyBallard.com and I would love to talk to any of you who have hosted a bee hive or have anything to do with Ballard Bee Company. And I'd love to hear about your experience with these classes! Please email me at emilyf3@uw.edu? Thanks! -Emily

Kevin Braun said...

Wow thats great - Beekeeping is an excellent hobby (or business). It is quite addictive though - I love my bees...

Honey Beekeeping said...

I know its been a while since you made this post but I was wondering how your beekeeping went through the summer. Did you get lots of honey? I've been a beekeeper for many years. I live on the other side of the state from where you live but I always liked the Seattle area. I very much hope your post inspired many of your readers to take up beekeeping, its a great hobby.

LinkWithin