If you’ve read part one of this series, you know we’re about to take a dive into one of the most exciting parts of beekeeping season: spring and summer. If you haven’t already, we recommend you take a quick break to go check out the first part in order to get a better sense of what to expect from your urban beehive in both fall and winter.
Now let’s get back to our seasonal breakdown, shall we?
Spring & Summer
If spring and summer are peak beekeeping season, then they’re also the best season to really get your tenants involved and invite them to one of our installation or maintenance workshops. That said, installation and maintenance are only two factors to consider when thinking about this busy season, so let’s also take a look at swarm prevention, regular inspections, custom label preparation, educational workshops, and of course – the honey harvest.
Is this the first time you’re hearing the term “swarming”? It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. In fact, it’s simply a natural yet avoidable phenomenon during which a bee colony spontaneously divides into two smaller colonies. First, the bees create a new queen. Then, the “old” queen leaves the colony with half the hive’s population to find a new home elsewhere. In the city, this could mean a car, a window or a lamp post! Not an ideal situation by any means – neither for city dwellers nor for the bees – which is why we want to keep the bees together and happy in their hive.
It’s the beekeeper’s role to prevent this from happening, especially in urban areas. Not everyone is as knowledgeable about the benefits of a bee colony and it could cause citizen concern, distrust, or fear of bees. It’s important to us that urban beekeeping not get a bad reputation, so swarm prevention should be a crucial aspect to any urban beekeeping project – all the more reason to count on a turnkey service from a trusted, diligent and professional partner.
Hive Installation and maintenance
Your supplier can get started with the hive installation and its regular maintenance as soon as spring has sprung. A professional supplier should provide an installation date as well as a regular maintenance schedule so that you can be prepped and ready for your professional beekeeper’s visit.
At Alvéole, we give our partners access to an online website that lets them manage their schedule, view upcoming visits, and consult detailed inspection reports so that you’re completely up to date on all things hive. Talk about tapping into the #HiveMind!
A nugget of beekeeper wisdom is that as flowers bloom, colonies boom! The population of a hive grows exponentially in the summertime. An experienced beekeeping partner will schedule a series of regular visits to control the hive’s size, ensure the bees have enough space to store their honey and check that the colony doesn’t intend to swarm. When you have this much growth, you need regular check-ins to make sure that every one of your working bees is happy and healthy!
Custom label preparation
Soon after the hive’s installation, your partner should kick-off the design phase for your brand’s custom honey and hive-derived product labels. Your supplier should manage the entire process from design through to printing and label application, getting feedback and validation from you at every step of the process. After all, this honey is uniquely yours! No two hives produce the exact same taste, so the label that adorns yours should be just as unique as your brand, building and community.
To truly maximize on your urban beekeeping experience, the people in the building need to feel directly engaged with the bees. Consider a partner that holds workshops to help foster a relationship between the hive project and your team. You’ll not only be building a bridge between people and the beekeeping project, but setting the table for deeper, more meaningful conversation about the environment as a whole.
At Alvéole, we offer a wide array of hands-on workshops. With every installation package, a beekeeper from our team will either show up at your building for a one-hour conference-style presentation with supporting PowerPoint and props; or lead a one-hour interactive activity directly involving the hive. We want people to know and feel confident around their new neighbours. After all, it really is their hive.
This is what everyone has been waiting for: the golden moment! At the end of the summer, the time will come to harvest the extra honey produced by the bees and reap the sweet, sweet efforts of your hard-working bees. On average, an urban hive produces 15 kilos (30 pounds) of honey per year. But don’t worry, you won’t be handling this yourself! With a full-service solution, your partner will come by to gather the honey-filled frames and extract every delicious drop.
Curious to know what to expect as temperatures drop and the extraction season gets in full swing?
Be sure to check out the second part of this series, where we’ll break down the stages and cycles of the autumn and winter seasons.