Keeping Bees in Your Own Backyard
Did you know that the Ann Arbor city code (search for apiary) allows for two hives of bees on every city lot? Keeping bees is not everyone’s idea of fun, but it is remarkably easy and, if you are inclined, there is abundant support for learning how to enhance the diversity of your backyard habitat. Now is the perfect time to get started.
The best book I know for learning the craft of beekeeping is Ross Conrad’s Natural Beekeeping. We own other books and dvds on the subject too, but Conrad keeps to a plan of organic care for his bee colonies, which keeps stress on the hive to a minumum.
SEMBA is the resource you need if you are actually trying to start hives. Lots of educational opportunites and comaradarie with fellow beekeepers. For supplies and lots of other information there are, of course, excellent sites online, here and here and here.
The documentary film Queen of the Sun is an amazing tour de force about our relationship to bees and explores the question, “What are bees trying to tell us when colonies collapse and bees disappear?” It is still touring select theaters and I am hoping it makes its way to Ann Arbor soon! Watch for it.
Finally, the wisest beekeeper around, Gunther Hauk, has a very special and inspiring message for working with bees and has started a “honeybee sanctuary” in southeastern Virginia called Spikenard Farm. Even if you don’t plan to keep your own hives, there is much to learn here.