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The buzz about beekeeping

Words: Bryan Alary | Pictures: istockphoto.com

When Jennifer Lang-Gorman's friends find out about her newest hobby, they're abuzz with anticipation.

The NAIT grad (Biological Sciences Technology '06) wrapped up her first season of beekeeping with friend (and fellow alum) Jennifer Bowlby and word is getting out about their sweet endeavour.

"They found out we're doing it, so they're coming to us for honey," laughs Lang-Gorman.

The duo completed the level 1 beekeeping course at NAIT, one of several courses offered locally that reflects a growing interest in the subject. Instructor Eliese Watson of ABC Bees in Calgary attributes the interest to Edmonton city council's 2015 decision to allow urban beekeeping provided would-be beekeepers complete training.

"When it became legalized, this large community of people embraced the opportunity with open arms. It's been really what I would call a mad rush of interest in beekeeping." — Eliese Watson, ABC Bees

"When it became legalized, this large community of people really embraced the opportunity with open arms. It's been what I would call a mad rush of interest in beekeeping," says Watson, whose 16-hour intensive course goes over the hows and whys of natural beekeeping practices, colony structure and management.

Watson says most of her students are in their late forties or older, with an interest in setting up their own urban hive. For about $400, hobbyists can set up their own colony complete with wooden boxes, a protective suit, smoker and tools.

Lang-Gorman says she and Bowlby set up theirs in Amber Valley, near Boyle, where they gather on weekends during the summer. (Bees take the winter off, which is one of the hobby's appeals especially among retirees).

Colonies don't ramp up honey production until year three, when urban harvests can yield 50 to 60 pounds. But what they did get to taste this past season was unlike any honey you'd find in stores due to the pollen bees collect that far north.

"You get that aspen and balsam taste. It kind of has a zing to it and it's not overly sweet," Lang-Gorman says.

Created By
Bryan Alary
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