Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 09 - Bees

Some time in February I read an article about urban beekeeping. The article made it sound like it was a super easy thing to do only taking a few hours every few months. I got me interested, especially because of the bee colony collapse, I wanted to better understand what was happening with bees. Plus my classmates from graduate school Mike and Zach had built a hive that was not in use.
I told my friend Tom about it. Tom is the director of KyotoUSA 
and he is the kind of person that you tell things when you want to make sure they happen. So he got on my case until I got the bees.
Turns out it is not that easy to get bees and it is an expensive start up cost. Plus I had to convince the land owners and the neighbors. But Tom would not stop asking me  so I had to do something.
I drove up to Sebastopol to beekind which WAS the nearest place to get bee equipment and bee starting boxes, about an hour north from the bay area. My friend David drove up there with me and it was really fun, aside from learning about bees, we took our bikes and went to visit Lutheran Burbank farm/

We meet the owner of bee kind who immediately gave me a beekeeping 101 hands on class. No suit or smoke required, he just got right in there.
This is a Kenyan stile bee box, developed by the peace corps for easier maintenance and less upfront cost

The bees build their own "frames"

This is a starter box, a small cardboard box with one queen and few hundred worker bees ready to start a hive.

You can buy this starting box for about $150 dolars 

So I was ready to buy it but turns out I could not do it then because you have to wait till the end of the day for all the bees to return to the box. But I got all my bee keeping equipment for about 300 dollars. We didn't have that much time so we came back to the bay. Time was running out for me because you must start your hive in the spring so bees can have enough food to establish themselves and be ready for the winter. I could not go back to Sebastopol so I ended up getting my starting box from Kalil a Saudi Arabian bee keeper in Oakland.
And here they are, my beautiful bees in the garden.

Also, I'm happy to report that now you can get all your bee need right in the mission in SF at Her Majesty Secret beekeeper.
If you find yourself in her neighborhood be sure to stop and check out her store it is beautiful and  try out some of her honey. She also offers all kinds of beekeeping and honey/ wax product classes. I took a honey wine class.

As the hive grew, which was pretty immediate, I had to add more boxes. The population went from about 300 bees to about 2000 in one weeks

It brought me so much joy to see the bees go crazy in the pollen of my flowers. They seriously looked like kids on a playground on the pollen of the sun flowers
I can never see things as disconnected any more. Having flowers in the garden had a whole new meaning now.

They loved the onion and leek flowers so much that I had a hard time taking and eating them 

Look at them, they are so beautiful. I love my bees!