You’ve decided that you’d like to take on an urban beekeeping project – we’re so glad!
The first thing that anyone should do before setting up this kind of project is to choose the right partner to work with.
You want to be able to take full advantage of your beekeeping experience and all of the #BeePerks the project has to offer. Ideally, your chosen partner will offer a keyturn solution that ensures your hives are kept healthy and thriving. But nonetheless, inviting bees in or onto your building comes with some responsibilities, so the next thing you’ll want to do is get a good grasp of what’s going to be required of you and your team to keep your hive happy during all four seasons. So to help, we’ve put together a season by season breakdown of the things you need to think about for a well-planned, flawlessly executed urban beekeeping project. By thinking ahead to your team’s workload for the year to come, you’ll find countless opportunities to get people involved, engaged and excited. In this first part, we’ll look at fall and winter.
Once your honey is harvested, your partner won’t waste a drop and will quickly take the honeycombs to a certified honey house for jarring. This process is pretty simple: the frames are put in a centrifuge – a device that spins the honeycombs incredibly quickly – and all of the honey will fly out of the comb so it can be collected. This process keeps the honeycomb completely safe in order to preserve the hive’s hard work, and allows you to make the most of your filtered and jarred harvest. And of course, your honey won’t be pasteurized, as pasteurization is known to eliminate the honey’s nutritional value and the nuances in that unique, home-grown flavor!
Did you know? We offer a full workshop named From Hive to Honey Jar where you can experience a completely hands-on and artisanal honey extraction.
Honey reception and distribution
A month after your honey harvest, you’ll receive your entire bounty jarred and labelled with your own custom branding. Why not seize this opportunity to organize a workshop with your supplier, or even set up a small sales kiosk either in your building lobby or at a local farmer’s market? A good solution provider will be familiar with the provincial or state regulations in effect in your area so that you can share your harvest safely and legally. You’ll also be able to dish out your honey as gifts to clients, personnel, VIPs, or anyone else who might want to learn a little bit more about urban beekeeping.
Hive product creations
If you’re working with an experienced partner, the very end of the Fall season will likely have them busy preparing a range of additional products like lip balms, soap bars and candles – all made from urban beeswax! This way, you’ll not only spread awareness about the project, but you’ll see a direct return on your urban beekeeping investment while knowing that your forward thinking is actively helping the bee population.
Preparing for winter
As fall approaches, your bees are already doing everything they can to get ready for winter. At this point, your partner should be doing their part by treating the hive for common parasites and making sure the bees have ample food to carry them through the cold months. You can expect the number of hive inspections to decrease as the need to watch for things like swarming is drastically reduced; your bees are too busy going into hibernation mode to think about leaving.
Wrapping the hives
Finally, as the first frost appears, the hive must be wrapped with insulation to help keep the bees warm. Yes, the bees stay on-site all winter! As needed, the hive can also be relocated for better ventilation and for protection from the weather. Of course, if your experienced partner conducted a detailed assessment prior to the hive installation, they’ll be more than ready to advise you ahead of time if a move unnecessary – so you can be sure they’re in good hands even as temperatures drop!
Choosing the right location for your bees
Ask your partner to assess which location on or in your building would be best for your bees. To help our potential partners, we provide a detailed location assessment based on various factors such as: orientation of the hive relative to building features, pedestrian traffic, visibility, ease of access, as well as exposure to the elements.
Getting people excited
The peak beekeeping seasons are spring and summer, which means that now is the perfect time to start mobilizing your community around your hive project. A couple of great ways to get people excited and engaged? Organize a workshop to introduce urban beekeeping to your building tenants, and then post educational bee posters in public places throughout the property. Giving people a reason to get excited will help them drive the project home and get all the details squared away so you can start getting acquainted with your new buzzing neighbours.
Cozy up for a quiet winter
Like most seasonal agricultural activities, beekeeping takes a holiday during the winter months. The bees will spend the winter in the cozy warmth of their freshly insulated hive where they’ll maintain an impressive internal temperature that can go up to 35 ̊C (95 ̊F). Makes you want to join them in there, doesn’t it? All that’s left for you to do is enjoy your honey and other derived products until spring comes around again. In fact, you might want to slip some of your raw honey into your tea when you start feeling that first cold of the season; honey is known for its antimicrobial properties and does wonders for a sore throat!