Dare I mention the lovely weather we’ve been getting in southern Alberta? Last weekend we were slammed with 40 cm of snow, most of which has melted just in time for another dusting next week. Although our bees aren’t wrapped yet the snow actually insulated them well and without the swaddling wraps it’s much easier to give them extra feed and let the medication do it’s work. Overall it’s been a drastic year for most beekeepers in the province so the term ‘liquid gold’ is taking on a whole new meaning.
If you love honey and have an interest in honey bees you may be pondering how to get your own supply of this perfect sweetener. You don’t have to be in the country to do so – urban beekeeping is a growing hobby. So much so that UofC researcher Ron Miksha has spent the last year examining “Who Becomes an Urban Beekeeper?” – a project he presented at Apimondia 2019 in Montreal. Here are some of his findings.
Firstly, the number of urban hives in Calgary have increased from approximately 100 to over 1000 in the last 10 years (30 times faster than commercial beekeeping in Alberta). Ron’s survey of YYC beekeepers indicates that most are not doing so for extra income but for ‘personal health, curiosity and ecological interests’. He also found correlations between the neighbourhoods with the highest hive density:
|Neighbourhoods with highest hive density had…||High hive density did NOT correlate with neighbourhood…..|
So what does all this mean for you? If your ‘hood resembles the ‘high hive density’ regions you’ll likely have nearby beekeepers to learn from and if not, you’re a trend setter that can provide a positive example to those living around you.
If you are keen to have bee hives in the city your first step should be to connect with your local bee club. Learn all you can before spending money on equipment and bees and accompany an experienced beekeeper at least once before you do. Also ensure your local bylaws permit it and that your neighbours are advised. Beekeeping is an adventure – rewarding, but it will test your mettle!