With backyard beekeeping allowed in many cities—including Long Beach—interest in urban honey bees is growing.
“Globally, we are losing our honey bee population,” said Long Beach Organic Education Director Terri Owens-Clark, who will be leading a four-week course in beekeeping beginning Feb. 15.
The Bee Informed Partnership estimates a 47-percent decline between 2018 and 2019 in the population of honey bee colonies.
“Their natural habitats are shrinking,” said Owens-Clark. “Pesticides, farming and beekeeping practices, disease, pests, stress, and climate change all fall heavy upon the plight of our honey bees. We could use more beekeepers and more households who are willing to host a hive.”
The Tailgate Beekeeping course is designed for anyone interested in learning about honey bees or for those simply interested in hosting a hive in their backyard.
“It’s a great class for beekeepers who want to round out their beekeeping knowledge. It’s for gardeners and teachers, community leaders, pollinator and sustainability advocates, Scouts working on badges, high school seniors working on their senior projects. Really, there is something for everyone,” she said.
The Tailgate Beekeeping course combines the basic and 101 classes with urban beekeeping, best practices, integrated pest management, current science, biology and culture, beekeeping management, and other topics to give participants a strong foundation.
Urban beekeeping is a natural part of sustainable farming, reducing our carbon footprint, and keeping products local, said Owens-Clark. Flowers depend on honey bees for completion of their lifecycle and bees depend on flowers to provide nectar, pollen and medicinal properties. This is just one of many symbiotic relationships in an ecosystem.
Divided into 60 mini-sections, the comprehensive course prepares people for their first two years of beekeeping. Participants will learn hive management techniques and how to naturally prevent bee pests and disease through classroom lectures, guest speakers, tailgate demonstrations, and hands-on experience in the apiary. There will also be an opportunity to view bee anatomy, pests, diseases, and local pollen through a microscope.
Owens-Clark recalls wanting to do something to save bees after watching a “60 Minutes segment” on colony collapse disorder. A couple of months later, a swarm landed in her compost bin.
“About $300 later, I was a beekeeper, or at least looked like one,” she said. “Then my interest took off and I went to bee meetings almost every week, and conferences four or five times a year, completed modules, and certificate programs from the British Beekeepers Association, and am now a participant in the California Master Beekeeping Program at UC Davis.”
The classes will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 15, 22, and 29, and March 7. They will be held at the Keller Williams Building, 6621 Pacific Coast Highway, and at the apiary at the Zaferia Junction Community Garden, 3709 10th St. The cost is $125.
To reserve your space, go to http://longbeachorganic.org/make-a-donation/ and click on the Donate button. For more information contact Terri Owens-Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other beekeeping related classes such as honey harvest, wax rendering and making products from the hive are planned for later this year, along with a summer educational program for youths.
– Margo McCall