After the field trip to the Richmond Sharing Farm, I went for a Honey Workshop, also organised by Arzeena, the Outreach Coordinator of the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project. This workshop is to introduce us to bee keeping in your own back yard. According to Richmond’s bylaw, one can keep up to 3 bee hives in their back yard with some requirements to follow.
The workshop is held at The Garrat Wellness Center at 7504 Chelsea Pl near No 2 and Blundell. It is a workshop organised by a social club for the seniors and it’s free. Well, I’m not in my senior age yet but the community kitchen participants were invited to join this workshop too. We were greeted with tea and baklava.
The baklava is to tie with the honey workshop, something sweet for our palate.
In the workshop, we had Mr. Brian Campbell, a local expert on bee to brief us the life cycle of a bee and how one can build a bee hive in our own backyard. Mr. Campbell is also in the food security task force and he is working towards organizing an apple festival in Richmond. I’m looking forward to that.
Mr. Campbell also brought along some basic bee keeping equipments for demonstration. We had one of the participant to wear the bee suit for demonstration. The lady said it’s hot wearing the bee suit.
Here are the estimate cost to start a bee hive:
bee keeping suit and tool: $100
Generally, a bee hive will yield about 100 lbs of honey in a year. One has to remember to reserve about 60 lbs of honey in the hive for the bees to go through the winter. It’s takes 3 years before the bees can go into production of honey.
After the workshop, we boarded a school bus to visit a honey keeper at Westham Island in Ladner.
We were given explanations again by Don, who has 35 bee hives on the how to bee keeping. The box is typically a hive which can accommodate about 60k bees for a strong colony.
This is a prefabricated board for the bees to build wax onto it. It takes 10 lbs of honey to make 1 lb of wax.
The spacing in the box has to be very precise, i.e 3/8 inch, otherwise the bees will fill the gaps with wax. The yellowish board is filled with wax.
After the briefings, we were taken to a blueberry farm where Don has rented his bee hives for blueberries pollination which is in the month of May. The bee hives are placed around the perimeter of the farm for the bees to do their job.
For blueberries pollination, each hive can earn from $75 to $125 for a month rental. However, the rental of the bee hive is not Don’s interest, it’s the honey that he is interested in. Other fruit trees which need bee for pollination are cranberry, pumpkin and blackberry. The rental for cranberry is higher like $125 and above but cranberry does not yield much honey but more for pollen.
It was a very windy and cold day and there is hardly any bees that comes out to work on the blueberry flowers that day. Otherwise, the field will be buzzing with bees in a warm day.
After the trip to the blueberries farm, we went back the Don’s place. Don brought out some bee hives for us to have a close up look. Don told us that he was stung about 100 times yearly. We were standing some distance back when Don remove the board filled with bees from the hives. According to Don, he has to move the bees very gently in order not to agitate the bees.
Don managed to find the board with the queen bee which is about twice the size of regular bees. The queen’s only job is to lay eggs and it lays about 2 to 3 thousands of eggs every day.
At the end of the field trip, we had the opportunity to taste various types of honey like raspberry, wild flowers, buckwheat, etc. The small bottle costs $6.50 and the large bottle costs $12.00. The taste of the various types of honey is different from the store bought ones. This is a very educational trip.
Do you know that in the life time of a worker bee (about 21 days), it makes a teaspoon of honey but flies the distance of 3 times around the earth?