It's spring which means the blossoms are blooming and the bees are active. I've noticed each year a small number of bees collecting pollen at 8 degrees celsius (46 fahrenheit) and the number increasing to full hive activity at sunny and 12 celsius (53 fahrenheit). Over the last few weeks the willow, forsythia, bulbs, heather and recently cherry blossoms have been providing protein for egg laying.
It's been a long, cold winter and especially hard on our bees. I work in the mountains and don't remember a year with this much snow. This week it snowed 70 centimetres in the mountains (over 2 feet) in 2 days and there must be 20 feet of snow at the top of the mountain. It will be awhile before the bears come out of hibernation and the bumblebees are pollinating the mountain blueberries.
Every year we grow produce for the Vancouver Foodbank so this week we added composted manure to the soil. I will also deliver some late season (September-October) dark, flavorful Goldenrod - Aster honey to the Foodbank.
Half of the honey from our garden hives goes to the Foodbank and half to Cottonwood Community Garden. We have a beekeeping cooperative at Cottonwood Community Garden and are faced with the challenge of colony loss this year. Our apiary was vandalized last year towards the end of August. Someone knocked over our strongest hive during the night which was preyed upon by skunks, racoons and wasps. This was a survivor stock with lots of honey which made it all the more devastating.
Every year in May we hold "Introduction to Beekeeping in Vancouver" classes. The classes are not meant to take the place of a full beekeeping course but rather to inform you of what to realistically expect in your first few years of beekeeping in Vancouver.
A recent study revealed that 70% of beekeepers quit within the first 3 years. Having observed this through the years I believe the reason is loss of bee colonies and being overwhelmed with that challenge. I believe this is because some people enter into beekeeping too quickly and are not properly prepared for the dedication of time and continuous learning that is required to be a competent beekeeper. Also, new beekeepers often do not have the support needed to deal with problems that arise which can be aided through a beekeeping network or group. The goal of this class is not to discourage you or take the place of a full beekeeping course but to assist you and better prepare you in your decision to become a beekeeper.
All of theory needed to be a beekeeper is available for free online. A good start is "Beekeeping 101" which is an assortment of books, videos and a course from the University of California. Our Beekeepers' Library is also a good source of information. While theory is important the practical application and guidance of experienced beekeepers is more so. We look forward to seeing you at our beekeeping class.
|"Being with Bees" Kurt Leibich, l869|