Saturday at the Hive

Mark, host for a bee gathering in his back yard.

A new beekeeper learns best by clinging to the leg of an experienced beekeeper. That’s how I learned, but I was four years old at the time. For you older folks, you need a mentor, someone who’s actually a better beekeeper than they claim to be, and is familiar with your geography, climate, and flowers. Good mentors are in short supply.

An alternative to a mentor might be a gathering of neo-keepers converging on a friendly, experienced paleo-keeper’s back yard. Hopefully by invitation. Our Calgary bee club offers a Saturday at the Hive event – something your local club might consider. You just need a lovely back yard and a willing host.

Mark’s four hives by the hedge in the back. In the front are honey samples,
including Mark’s prize winning entries from honey shows.

Here in Calgary, members of the bee club let an organizer know that they are able and interested in opening up their home, gardens, and bees to beekeeping visitors. The intention is announced and potential visitors – first come, first served – sign up. These Saturday at the Hive bashes fill up quickly. That was the case when my friend Mark hosted such a party in his yard.

Mark describing the oxalic-acid method of mite control.

Mark invited me to ‘co-host’ but the planning, work, setup, and bees were his. As were the wholesome summertime BBQ and fixin’s.  I was mostly furniture, except in the role of talking about bees and answering bee questions.  The party also gave me an audience of over 20 people to update about my University of Calgary bee ecology project. One of my undergrad research assistants presented a nice overview of our work.  (I’ll have more about that in a future blog post.)

I am near the centre of this scene, examining a piece of experimental bee equipment, which I will place in the hive. To the right is Mark, the host at this party.

Guests  gathered in a big semi-circle around Mark’s neatly arranged apiary of four hives. We worked our way through the colonies, making some timely adjustments. One colony needed a brood boost, another took an extra honey super. As we did this work, the visitors took a few pictures and many took notes. For the newest beekeepers, it can be daunting trying to understand the mechanics of the equipment and the dynamics of the living hive.

It was a great experience, lovely to have so many people gathered around, exhibiting keen interest in flowers, landscapes, and bees. I leave with this very short clip of the visitors to this week’s Saturday at the Hive.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Bee Yards, Beekeeping, Friends and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Saturday at the Hive

  1. Pingback: Saturday at the Hive | How To Start Bee Farming

  2. Pingback: How did your bees do? | Bad Beekeeping Blog

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