Over the past few years people have become more aware of the important role bees play within most ecosystems. This increase in awareness has resulted from the global decline of bee populations. Declining bee populations have serious environmental impacts such as the loss of biodiversity and decreased food production. Bees are essential for pollination, and are responsible for pollination of much of the world’s food crops. The size and quality of crop yields are jeopardized by the decrease in bee populations. In addition to pollinating agricultural crops, bees help maintain biodiversity by pollinating wild plants which serve as habitats and food for many wild species.
Urban beekeeping, the process of keeping honey bee colonies in urban areas, is a great way to help protect bee populations while partaking in a fulfilling hobby and producing delicious honey! Cities are great locations for beehives due to their protection from wind and pesticides, and the diversity of flowering plants. Even if you don’t have an abundance of flowers in your backyard, honey bees can travel up to 5 km (3 miles) when foraging for nectar. Make sure to check your local regulations on beekeeping and consult with your neighbours before beginning your urban beekeeping journey!
Joining a local beekeeping organization is a great first place to start when considering urban beekeeping. It is beneficial to connect with and consult with experts and reliable information sources in order to learn about beekeeping and how a beehive works. Many local Colleges provide in-person or online beekeeping courses that are a great way to get started. This research will help you understand the tasks you must perform in order to maintain your bees and keep them healthy, and understand the local requirements. Honey bee colonies are made up of a small number of male drones, the majority worker bees (non-reproductive females) and the one Queen which lays all of the eggs. While the drones and worker bees may live only a few months, the Queen may live for 2 - 4 years. Honey bees are prone to mites and diseases that are important to monitor for in your colony, so connecting with local experts will pay off in the long run.
Additionally, it is helpful to look into the supplies you will need! Your bees will need a man-made beehive so that you can easily collect the honey and maintain the colony. You will need protective safety gear like veils, jackets, and gloves, as well as some maintenance tools like a smoker and a hive tool. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of beekeeping, understand the steps required to keep them healthy and prevent swarming, you’re ready to order your bees and get started!
Urban Beekeeper Online Course - Algonquin College, Ontario, Canada
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