Mid spring this year McKay added a lot of tiny new members to our family. It’s funny, I got a lot of people messaging me if I was pregnant. I had to disappoint a lot of people that no a baby wasn’t on it’s way but 5,000 bees were joining our family.
A couple years ago before we had Amelia, I worked at a large medical facility doing their PR, Marketing and Advertising and I had a couple co-workers I would play racquetball with everyday and they were both beekeepers.
I would hear their conversations about bees all the time sparked an interest in them. My co-worker let me borrow his book on beekeeping and I read it. This sounds so incredibly nerdy, but I couldn’t put that dang book down. I was blown away by how amazing honey bees are. After reading the book I told McKay all about them and because is gardener at heart and has a natural green thumb he was on bee band wagon.
Last year while attending my towns farmer’s market we saw a man selling honey, so went up to his booth and started to talk to him. His was Richard and after buying some of his honey we talked to him about how we’ve been wanting to be beekeepers but didn’t know where to start and whether or not our backyard was large enough. He told us how he started a beekeeping mentorship program where he finds foster families to house his bees and in exchange for housing his bees he teaches you how to take care of them, and at the end of the season you get some of the honey they produce. It was an immediate consensus with McKay and I that we needed to do this, so we signed up right there on the spot!
We’ve had our bees with us for almost three months and we’ve LOVE them! Every month Richard has had to add a box on top of the original hive because the bees are filling it up with that gold liquid called honey. Currently we have three boxes stacked on top of each other.
I didn’t think people with small yards could house a beehive, but the great thing about beekeeping is you don’t need a lot of space, you just need a spot that get a lot of sun. Our beehive is located right next to our garden.
In these three months I’ve learned a lot and I feel really passionate about them and importance of bees in our environment and how we need to protect these little creatures. So I came up with the reasons why you should be an urban beekeeper because if I can do it with my very small backyard, you can do it to. Plus there’s a lot more pros than cons.
1. It creates an environment for children to learn about nature. One of McKay and my favorite things about having bees is teaching Amelia about them It creates the perfect environment to teach her about nature, plants, gardening, and where our food comes from. Martha Stewart once said that if you teach children where there food comes by having them pull the carrots out and pick apples from a tree they’ll appreciate it and will more likely eat it. I strongly believe this and think that when you live in a suburb like we do, it’s sometimes hard to have your children exposed to agriculture, so even though we don’t have goats, pigs, or chickens, we can have the feel of an urban farm by having bees.
We have talked to her about the bees and how she needs to give them their space, she can look at them, but are not allowed to touch them. We’ll go outside during the day and watch them swarm outside the hive, she just loves it. When we have friends over most of the times they just want to look at the hive the entire time, haha.
2. It teaches your kids not to be afraid of bees and other bugs. I’m a strong believer that if they see something or experience something everyday, like water and going swimming, sooner or later you will become familiar with it, and therefore you’ll feel comfortable around that environment. This is the same with bees. Because Amelia sees them every day she isn’t afraid of them. She’s also not afraid of other bugs. This has helped her to feel more confidence in her surroundings and when she’s outside.
3. It’s interesting, a great conversation piece, and people will find you fascinating. When people find out that we have bees, people are super and ultra fascinated. I mean, how many people do you know have bees? One time we were at a party and one of our friends asked us about our bees and for the next 45 minutes he asked us questions about it. I wouldn’t be a beekeeper just to say you are one, you gotta make sure it’s a good fit for you and your family, but if it is, you’ll learn to love it and want to share your knowledge with everyone.
4. You and your neighbors gardens, fruit trees, and plants will produce and look amazing. Bees pollinate fruits and vegetables so that the fruits and vegetables can reproduce. Without this necessary function, apple trees wouldn’t provide apples, other fruit trees wouldn’t provide their fruit and vegetables wouldn’t provide their vegetables. A garden without bees isn’t going to do much of anything so bees are very important to the gardening.
Pollination works when the bee drinks the nectar from flower to flower and while they’re doing this their little feet are busy collecting pollen from one plant and transferring some of it to the next plant they visit. They continue this way throughout the entire garden transferring the necessary pollen so that the plants will produce fruit. Without this pollination, there wouldn’t be any fruit. Our next door neighbor has a couple apple trees in his backyard and he has told us numerous times how much better they look this year than any year he’s had them produce apples. Our garden is flourishing thanks to our bees and we’re getting the same comments several of our neighbors.
5. Honey, duh?! Yeah, one of the major perks of having a beehive is the delicious honey you’ll be able to consume. Have you ever had real honey? No, I don’t mean honey from a store because most of the honey sold at grocery stores is processed and pasteurized and when this happens most of the nutrients and allergy fighting elements is taken out of it.
Once I tried real honey I’ll never go back to buying honey from a store. It’s more delicious and better for you. Raw honey is the second best option because it’s not pasteurized.
Did you know there’s different flavors of honey depending on where the bees have been pollinating? There’s hundreds of different flavors of honey. Some of my favorite are wildflower and lavender honey. They’re to die for!
Did you know that honey never goes bad if it’s stored properly? I recently heard that archaeologists found a 2,000 year old jar of honey in a tomb in Egypt and it was still edible.
6. Health benefits. Honey is one of the most nutritious foods you can consume. Blog Outdoor Nation said, “[Honey] contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and C, as well as numerous antioxidants to build healthy enzymes and Rifidobacteria to aid with digestion. One tablespoon of raw honey has up to 17 grams of carbohydrates, making it a good alternative to sports gels. In addition, honey has been known to ease morning sickness, increase good cholesterol, and act as a kid-friendly sedative.” Consuming local honey has been known for helping people develop defences against local allergens. Honey is also 100% Paleo and is the best sweetener to use in cooking and baking.
7. Beekeeping is low maintenance. People think that beekeeping takes up a lot of time, and you would be surprise that we spend around 15 minutes every two weeks opening up the hive and inspecting it and that’s it. If you’re new to beekeeping getting educated and obtaining some training takes up the most time. But once you get the hive the bees are very self sufficient with only needing a clean water source, the right location, and some feeding in the spring and fall. When fall rolls around is when you harvest the honey and this only takes a couple hours.
8. Urban beehives tend to do better than rural beehives. This is due to because in rural areas pesticides are used more frequently in commercial farming than in urban hives. Therefore it’s better for the bees, the environment, and for you! So the likelihood of your hive to run into colony collapse disorder is a lot less.
So are you convinced? Do you want to be an urban beekeeper? It’s uber green and fun. Expect more beekeeping posts on the blog. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll make sure to ask Richard and I’ll get back to you.