Monday, June 29, 2009

Urban Beekeeping Workshop


From rain barrel workshops to volunteer clean-ups, Parks & People has got it goin' on! Last Friday 6/26, they hosted an Urban Apiaries workshop in Hamilton.

Although I don't think I quite have the space or commitment right now to pick up bee-keeping as a hobby, it's still wonderful to learn about these amazing creatures. It was fun to see the equipment and the beehive, plus the gentlemen giving the workshop were very friendly and knowledgeable (Sara, please help me out with their names!).

More pictures of the workshop are on my Flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/whistlesfarandwee/sets/72157620559516359/

Cool bee facts:

1. Drone bees feed a larvae royal jelly to make the larvae a queen bee. Several queens are created at the same time in this method. The first queen to emerge from her cell injects her stinger into the unhatched queen cells, thus killing her competition and becoming the reining queen. Whew! I thought high school was harsh ;p

2. 3/8" is called Bee Space. It is a measurement known by carpenters, and is the ultimate width a bee needs to move in a space. If the passageway is too big, the bee will make honeycomb in the area . If the passageway is too small, the bee will seal it up with propalis. 3/8" and the bee will crawl easily within the space.

3. Propalis is another product that bees create, other than collected pollen and honey. It is created as the bees process tree sap and use it in construction of their hive.


There was also a great community garden in the yard, so I got to check out some broom corn (used for making brooms of course), passionfruit vines (the leaves are edible and have a really wonderful kind of spinach-y taste), plus beets, nasturtiums, carrots, and all that other great stuff.

My friend Adam showed me a passionfruit flower (above), and I still can't believe how unreal and beautiful it is! He told me each flower is identical too, right down to the same number of hairs around the center of the flower. Wow! (I am really wishing I had the vocabulary to describe all of the parts of the flower right now). I had no idea that passionfruit would grow in this area either. Apparently last year the fruit never quite matured, but perhaps it will this year! Mmm, can't wait to try it. Perhaps there will be some jam?

The bee box that was displayed at the workshop is now part of that community garden, so I'm excited to head up to Hamilton in the near future to check it out some more. Plus there is a new Farmer's Market up there on Tuesdays, which is yet another reason to take the short 10 minute drive north! (One day I will bike it...)

I'll leave you with a fun bee-keeping activity for anyone with a coffee can and a few hollow bamboo sticks or dowels: Build a bee-box! This project of course will attract more solitary bees than the honeybee hive type, but they are useful pollinators nonetheless.

The picture below is from this Flickr page and shows a simple coffee-can and bamboo method, but typing "build bee box" in Google will of course turn up a number of different methods.




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