The buzz around urban beekeeping
London’s Jewish Community Centre is doing its bit to ensure a sweet new year with a campaign to promote urban Jewish beekeeping. Community members are being encouraged to run their own hives to combat a dramatic decline in honey bee populations…
“I have always been fascinated by the bee world,” she said. “But it’s not like chickens where all you need is some space and some grain. I’m so grateful this opportunity came up.”
Alison Benjamin, who runs the course with Brian McCallum, said: “It’s really important to start keeping bees in cities, there’s more of a diversity of flowers and plants. You can taste that in the honey. In the country, there are fields and fields of the same crop. In a city it’s warmer and more sheltered.
“Bees can also be great for community cohesion. Some schools in south-east London have used beekeeping as a way of keeping kids calm because you have to be very careful and thoughtful when dealing with bees.”
New North London Synagogue also has plans for a hive of its own.”We think it’s a great way to bring people together and teach important lessons around sustainability that are rooted in our faith,” said executive director Claire Mandel.
Water Meter Bees
Today Chelsea and I rescued a hive from a water meter in Chase Park in Marina Del Rey with fellow Backward Beekeeper Susan. Susan is a violinist in the Marina Del Rey Orchestra and noticed the bees coming out of the meter after a rehearsal. She contacted the park administration and asked them if we could rescue the bees. They didn’t know about Susan’s bees, but they had planned to call vector control to have another 3 hives in the park exterminated (“foamed”). They were happy to let us rescue the bees.
I thought it was going to be a fairly small hive because these water meters are checked every few months. Well, this one must have gone awhile because when I cracked the lid, I discovered at least a 6 month old hive.
We worked quickly to cut out the comb from the water meter, brush the bees into a nuc box and tie the comb into frames.
This was Susan’s first cut-out and she did a great job. Ken, our park supervisor, was intrigued with the whole process, paying careful attention to our every move. He even got his first ever bee sting and could have cared less.
None of us could believe how many bees came out of this little water meter. After we brushed the queen into one of the nucs, it was like a stampede to get in. The entrance hole soon clogged, forcing the bees to pack another four nucs to the gills. In the end, we rescued every single bee, saving these prolific little creatures from the foam.
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