Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fallen Pollen

Last week I lead another hive tour at UBC Farm for the Landed Learning Program's Family Day. It's lovely to see students with their parents and siblings sharing the pride of their garden beds. By this time of the year the students have become confident enough to give tours of the gardens to show their parents the peas, kale, and lettuce they have grown from seed.

I found this little guy catching a few rays on a blade of grass near the raspberry canes.

There were some great workshops on offer, including how to tap maple syrup, cooking blackberry jam, a birding table, a lesson is pressing flowers and an art station.

Each group of students gives their garden bed a name, like Fallen Pollen.

I ran into Mr. G, the UBC Farm beekeeper, and asked him about the teaching hive. He said they were getting overcrowded and trying to swarm. He had to come back very few days to knock out the queen cells they were creating. He also said there was a distinct lack of bee forage in this location at this time of the year and next year the farm should consider cover crops for mid May such as buckwheat and phacelia. Mr. G said he is already getting honey off his hives at Van Dusen Gardens. The blackberries are just starting to bloom and the farm is also surrounded by salmon berries and thimble berries, but I guess there are just not quite enough to create get the honey flowing at this time of the year.

Mr. G had put on a small super since the last time I opened the hive, so it was full of new light-colored comb with a bit of honey in it. The bees were on high alert because the beekeeper had already disturbed them once that day. IMO the farm should have at least two teaching hives so they don't stress out the one hive by opening them up multiple times in one day.

While giving the tour I met a hobby beekeeper who says he had eight hives in his back yard and was looking for a place to put more hives. Sounds like his urban bees are thriving!

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