If you love blueberries, cherries or apples you can thank bees for pollinating these crops and for making some great, local honey. But did you know how important bees are to our local economy? While bee populations are declining all over the world, in B.C., honeybees are actually thriving and help generate close to $500 million to our economy each year says a new report by Vancity.
Part of the reason our bee population is so strong is because of a growing local, urban beekeeping community. Urban beekeeping is a powerful way to connect with nature and local food systems while valuing the interconnection of all things.
If you want to try your hand at becoming an urban beekeeper here are some tips to get you started:
- Take a course: the rich information and the quality connections you make are well worth it. Courses are offered at the Honey Bee Centre, Urban Bee Supplies and through the Provincial Apiculturist.
- Join a local club: clubs will connect you to a community of beekeepers who can offer guidance and support for when bees act in a confusing way (confusion is inevitable in beekeeping). Bees offer a lifetime of learning.
- Spend some time beekeeping before you dive in: you can do this through a club, volunteering, or through developing mentors in the beekeeping community. Get to know the bees before you take on any responsibility managing them.
- Plant bee food: flowers and flowering vegetables provide pollen and nectar for both wild (bumblebees & mason bees) and managed populations (honeybees).
- Stay in touch with your hives: read, learn and observe. Keep notes and monitor regularly for pests and pathogens.
- Know your local bylaws (and follow them).
In Vancouver, our bylaws support two colony apiaries in backyard gardens, on rooftops, or in community green spaces. Good management practices should take into account the complexity of the honeybee hive while trying to maintain the health of the colony without the prophylactic use of treatments.
At Hives for Humanity we believe there’s an incredible opportunity to support bees in our cities by providing a diversity of forage and habitat. We also believe that through responsible urban beekeeping, both wild and managed populations can thrive, and people can help support our local economy, food supply and their communities while creating a stronger connection to nature.