Beekeeping in the Burbs
I’m a mom to three young boys which means our days are full of lots of silliness, crazy energy, some screaming and of course, laughter. It also means that with all of the extra energy that three boys ages four, six, and eight, create, the very best days for everyone is when much of our time is spent outdoors. The boys are happiest outside, in nature- in trees, on mountains, playing in the dirt, enjoying time with their dog, their lizards, finding snakes, bugs of all kinds, and now, tending to our bees as well.
This April, my family and I became beekeepers. We don’t live on a farm, or even an acre, rather we live in the Golden/Arvada area suburbs. Suburbs that include neatly mowed lawns. But suburbs that also are close to miles of open space and wild flowers (perfect for bees). I have always dreamed of having bees, chickens, and goats but figured it would all need to wait until the “someday,” “one day,” when I have more land and no HOA.
However, I started researching more about beekeeping and realized that while my close neighbors and strict HOA would certainly not allow for noisy chickens or goats (sigh), bees could blend right in. We eat local as much as possible, are members of nearby CSAs (GoFarm and SheGrows), and so becoming beekeepers seemed like a natural fit for our family.
I knew bees were an important part of our ecosystem, but was in amazed the more I learned:
- Bees pollinate 80% of the world’s plants including 90 different food crops.
- 1 out of every 3 or 4 bites of food you eat is thanks to bees.
- The honey bee is responsible for $15 billion in U.S. agricultural crops each year.
I researched many hives and decided on the Flow Hive. The sell for me: when it’s time to harvest honey, you simply turn the tap — imagine beer on tap- but instead honey flows!
Putting together the Flow Hive was a family event (okay, 90% my husband), as was picking up the bees and showing them their new home. The opening of the swarm of bees in the box was done by my husband and eight year-old, as the other two kids watched in awe.
The addition of bees to our yard has been great so far. I find myself quietly sitting in the garden observing their movements- the buzzing in and out of the hive all day, the quiet of the morning activity, followed by endless amounts of bees in and out of the hive by mid afternoon, only to have everything settle again in the evening. I love watching the worker bees pull dead bees out of the hive and push them to the ground (you have to keep a tidy home!), and the bees going flower to flower in search for nectar.
My boys often go over near the hive and observe as well. My 4 year-old is completely fearless- grabbing the sugar feeding jar with his bare hands as 20 bees circle him (you need to supplement with sugar water through May before all of the blossoms are out).
It’s a great way for all of us to spend more time outdoors and help nature at the same time. I feel it’s a responsibility that we all share to take care of Mother Earth like she takes care of us. And being a beekeeper in the burbs is just one (very fun), way to do that.
Interested in becoming a beekeeper too? Feel free to email me and I can share all I have learned so far: firstname.lastname@example.org
Post by Maya Brook, Executive Director