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...