Eye-level with the eucalyptus canopy of Golden Gate Park, Charlie Blevins stands on his San Francisco rooftop and begins to “suit up.”
He slips on a white jacket, then pulls a spacesuit- like hood over his head that masks his face with a netted veil. A pair of thick, white gloves drawn on and Blevins is ready for “inspection.” He gently pulls a honeycomb frame from the hive.
This is from one of 35 beehives that the San Franciscan beekeeper maintains in the backyards and rooftops of Bay Area properties. Is the queen laying eggs? Is the colony in tip-top shape? Are honey stores adequate? Blevins, a cheery and warm-hearted man in his late 50s, asks himself these questions as he checks each hive for signs of disease.
“You can tell a lot about the egg-laying pattern of the queen. If the queen is not laying, then the hive will die. Bees only live six weeks,” said Blevins.
Honeybee populations are in deep trouble around the world, but in places like San Francisco, urban beekeepers are doing their part to restore the enterprising Apis to their crucial role as ecosystem pollinator. Urban beekeeping is an outgrowth of the local food movement, which has inspired countless farms in urban pockets and has stoked the dream of sustainable cities. Behind every urban beehive is the beekeeper.
Read the original article here: San Francisco beekeeping: the thrill of the hive
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The Rise of the Backyard Beekeeper
By Michael Steinkampf
“Backyard beekeeping is nothing new. Until Alexander the Great returned from India with samples of sugar cane, honey was the only sweetener known to Europeans, and it was not uncommon for households to have a hive of honey bees on hand for personal use; a prosperous colony can produce over 100 pounds of honey in a season…
But as city-dwellers have become more interested in connecting with Nature, the renewed interest in small-scale agriculture has been accompanied by a resurgence of backyard beekeeping. Beehives seem to be springing up everywhere: Parisian balconies, the gardens of Buckingham Palace and the White House, and most notably the rooftops of New York City, which lifted its ban on urban beekeeping in 2010. In three years, membership in the British Beekeeping Association doubled to more than 20,000, as young urban dwellers strode to transform a rather staid pastime into a vibrant environmental movement…
Honey bees do particularly well in suburban environments, where the diverse flora give a steady production of pollen throughout the year, and the absence of crowded bee yards and agricultural pesticides provide a healthy environment for honey bee colonies. Some allergy sufferers claim that the ingestion of pollen found in local honey helps relieve their hay fever. Honey obtained locally is more flavorful than most supermarket honey, which is intensely heated and filtered to prolong shelf life…”
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