Last Sunday at the Lents International Farmer’s Market, they had a guest speaker come to talk about bee-keeping in the city. This has been something I have been curious about for some time, but I was never really sure if you could do that in the city. To answer that question, yes you can keep bees in the city.

The speaker was a man name Glen Andresen who keeps bees locally and is also a member of the local Oregon State Beekeepers Association. He was a great speaker and apparently he hosts a few workshops in the Spring, which is typically when you would want to start your new hive. It sounds like June and July are the biggest honey production months, so he even brought some fresh, raw honey for us all to enjoy.

I learned a lot of interesting things:

  • There can only be one queen bee. She is selected when she is 36 hours old and is fed extra amounts of royal jelly, to make her big and strong.
  • Each colony has its own temperament: calm, aggressive/mean, curious. If the colony is too aggressive, some bee keepers purposely kill the queen and carefully introduce a new queen. She sets the tone of the colony.
  • Only the drones (males) can sting you, and they make up around 5% of the bee population. They don’t need as many drones because they are only there for mating with the queen. The worker bees are females.
  • There are over 20,000 species of bees, but only seven are honey bees. There are no honey bees native to North America, so our honey bees were brought from Europe or Africa.

These are some of the interesting tidbits I picked up on, and I am sure there are tons more that I would learn in a longer format workshop. It seems like there are a substantial amount of benefits to keeping bees:

  • Comb can be melted down into wax for candles, etc.
  • Honey produced in your own backyard
  • Supporting the bee population by providing habitat
  • Increasing fruit yields with higher pollination rates

I am interested so I plan to enroll in the class this Spring. If you have kept bees, I would love to hear about your experience. I would also love to hear any good book recommendations on the subject!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson