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Thank you SO much to everyone who came all the way out to our Bee-Day @ the HoneyLove Sanctuary!! What an amazing crew of HoneyLovers we have!!
 

We brought up a rain barrel, and planted some California Native BEE-friendly plants (from Matilija Nursery). We branded and painted 9 medium supers (bee-boxes) with linseed oil, and made starter strips for all of the boxes’ frames… and we cleared and leveled out spots to better situate our hives for some hands-on mentoring!!!
 

More photos coming soon!!

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HoneyLove featured in Sunset Magazine ?!!!
June 2012 

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Six reasons to become an urban beekeeper


1. Healthy bees make a healthy planet

Bees play a crucial role in the Earth’s ecosystem. They are essential for biodiversity, as they have a symbiotic relationship with flowering plants, and they are an important part of the food chain. They pollinate plants and trees, crops that we rely on as food sources, and the cotton we wear against our skins. It’s even thought that they contribute to reducing exhaust fumes in cities by filtering them out of the atmosphere.
 

2. Bee populations are on the decline

Colony Collapse Disorder has been causing mass bee deaths over recent years and it is a widely-discussed phenomenon today, however most people who are concerned about CCD and bee health feel helpless when it comes to reducing the plight of the bees.

When asked why bees are dying prematurely and in vast numbers, experts point to a combination of the varroa mite and other viruses, however the root of the problem can be attributed to a variety of factors including the way bees are currently ‘farmed’, and the use of pesticides and insecticides used in modern-day agricultural practices, which have inevitably entered the bee food chain..
 

3. Bees need a break from being farmed like cattle

In modern agricultural practices bees are treated like commodities in the same way that factory farm animals are used for maximum output using minimal resources and space. In many countries today bees are fed sugar-water in place of their own nutrient-rich honey and confined to small, compact hives which are stacked on top of one another and designed to allow constant interference from their farmers. These large-scale bee‘keepers’ use bee colonies to pollinate vast quantities of the same crop in one sitting, for example a single almond plantation, then they package them up again to let loose on the next field. Like cattle, their natural feeding habits and freedoms are restricted, and they succumb to health problems as a consequence of these unnatural practices.
 

4. Urban beekeeping is necessary for strengthening bee populations

The primary aim of natural beekeeping is not to harvest the products bees create, such as honey and beeswax, but to help colonies to maintain optimum health by giving them a safe, non-invasive space to ‘bee’.

One of the best ways you can do this is by offering a small space in your garden to the bees. Due to the vastly differing plants available within small spaces in urban areas, bees actually thrive in busy cities and towns. According to Parisian bee artist Olivier Darne, in ‘an analysis of the honey we made here in Paris…it contained more than 250 different pollens. In the countryside there can be as few as 15 or 20 pollens’.
A backyard space in a city provides an ideal habitat for a bee colony. Bees can travel large radiuses to access further nutritious plant nectar, and bees kept in urban areas are alsoless likely to encounter large amounts of pesticides and insecticides which are commonly used to treat crops en masse in countryside fields.
 

5. Backyard beekeeping doesn’t cost you anything

It can cost virtually nothing to provide a rich habitat for a colony of bees, but the value of this colony to our planet is immense. Natural beekeeping does not require the use of the expensive equipment that is used to interfere with bee patterns, such as smoking them out to get to their honey, or donning protective suits to avoid attacks triggered by this honey ‘harvesting’ (stealing). The Top-Bar beehive is designed to minimise how much the bees are disturbed by the keeper, as it allows maximum visibility of bee life without forcing them to evacuate the hive in order to observe them. With a Top-Bar hive you can get to know your bees and even closely study them without ever having to open the hive up completely. You can make your own Top-Bar beehive for free using this guide, thanks to champion bee guardian Phil Chandler.
 

6. Bees have much to teach us

Chandler wrote The Barefoot Beekeeper as a guide to natural beekeeping without a protective suit. He advocates learning the way of the bees by observing them and literally listening to them to work out their natural patterns, for example when they are most busy and should therefore be left alone, and when they might welcome a visit from the keeper.

Left to themselves, bees are harmless creatures, busy running the hive in their various allocated roles, working all day long, and serving and protecting the queen bee. All they need from you is a safe base to come back to at the end of a working day, and in return for this you get to watch the fascinating way in which these insects work together. The bee dance is simply amazing to witness first-hand.

When you ‘keep’ bees in this manner you come to realise that these humble, hardworking insects keep the natural order of things buzzing in a way that humans can only partially understand, but that we can certainly learn to appreciate more. Have you ever used the phrase ‘the bee’s knees’ to describe something of high quality or excellence? Such is the world of the bees. When you become a backyard beekeeper, you open up a complex, beautiful facet of the natural world. And you’ll never want to look back.
 

[click here to read the original post on theecologist.org]

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ARTICLE: San Diego Reader
City Council Unanimously in Favor of Urban Agriculture Amendments

“Today was a landmark day for local agriculturalists as the City Council voted unanimously in favor of amendments to the municipal code which simplify the process for approving farmers’ markets on private property, make minor adjustments to community garden regulations, and ease restrictions for keeping chickens, goats, and bees.

In an affable session marked by laughter and applause, the Council heard from several supporting speakers ranging from Hoover High School geographic information system students to members of the San Diego Beekeeping Society, the San Diego County Farm Bureau, the Goat Justice League, Food Not Bombs, the International Rescue Committee, New Roots Community Farm, the San Diego Hunger Coalition, the One In Ten Coalition, as well as 55 written supporters who did not speak at the meeting.

The amendments follow a $50,000 grant awarded to the City of San Diego in March to pursue municipal code and general plan amendments supporting urban agriculture with the goal of stunting obesity rates by planning communities in ways that support increased physical activity and access to healthy foods…

In the first municipal code revision on beekeeping since 1977, the practice is now allowed in single family zones with a single family dwelling, community gardens, and retail farms…

“The benefits of bee keeping are fresh natural honey, natural sweetener, and increase in the docile domesticated honeybee population,” said Joyce.

“San Diego has had European honeybees since 1869,” said Eric Robinson of the 450 member strong San Diego Beekeeping Society. “They were brought here by John Harbison. Beekeeping was a large part of the San Diego economy as we exported boxes of honey back to the East Coast and Chicago. John died a millionaire… The bee keeping industry in California represents about $5 billion worth of agriculture. Every third bite of food is something that pollination by bees was involved in the process.”

Other statements of support for the amendments included the need to cultivate domesticated bees to counteract the plummeting bee population due to the enigmatic “colony collapse disorder”, the prospect of carbon emission reduction by eating locally grown produce, and, according to lifelong San Diego resident Oliver E. Owen III, 71, the simple enjoyment of “great critters. They relax you. Your blood pressure goes down, you don’t drink as much. And they have personalities. I’m here strictly to support this thing on the basis of camaraderie of animals. That’s all.”

[click here to read the full article on sandiegoreader.com]

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“Bee Orchid” -

The Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the family… The name “Ophrys” derives from the Greek word “ophrys”, meaning “eyebrow”, while the Latin name of the species “apifera” refers to the bee-shaped lip… The Bee Orchid is the County flower of Bedfordshire, England.

[click here to learn more on wikipedia.org]

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Dancing Honeybee Using Vector Calculus to Communicate

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http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

TED TALK – Dennis vanEngelsdorp: a plea for bees

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Southern California Coastal Pollinator Planting Guide (pdf)

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Photo by teetooblog.blogspot.com

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The way of the Bee (Natural Beekeeping)

 article by milkwoodkirsten 

Bees just want to be bees. I’ve learned recently that, like most things in nature, a honeybee colony is most happy, calm and resilient when it’s left to do what it does best. For bees, this means forage for nectar and pollen, raise a brood, and make honey. And bees want to do this in their own time, on their own schedule, and with the freedom to respond to each unique season. Which is quite contrary to how we currently manage bees. So what’s going on here?

Our species’ treatment of the honeybee is a striking metaphor for our wider relationship with nature. In short, we started out okay, with a suitable amount of reverence, and then we progressively sought to bend the way of the bee to our wishes, convenience and ultimately, gross profit at the expense of all else. The result of this treatment has pushed the honeybee (a primary pollinator of most things we eat) to the point of collapse, and now we’re wondering what went wrong and how the heck to fix it. Sound familiar?

Until recently I thought beekeeping was pretty simple and straight forward. Don’t you just get a hive, plunk some bees in it, put it somewhere suitable, check it lots for disease, then harvest honey once a year? But once i started thinking, reading and chatting about it, I realized there are ways and there are ways

milkwood.net bees

…a bee colony is a finely tuned super-organism with about 40 million years of evolutionary backup. Bees have been refining what they do for a bloody long time, and they’ve got things pretty much sorted. Understanding how they operate in a completely natural system is a good starting point for understanding their needs.

So natural beekeeping (as opposed to not-quite-as-bad-as-conventional beekeeping, sometimes called by the same name) is all about letting bees be bees, and harvesting surplus honey when it is available. In the meantime, you get fantastic fertility from having so many pollinators around, and you’re creating resilient colonies which are disease resistant.

Click here to read the full article

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