Backyard bees

Learning the art of backyard beekeeping with Growing Gardens (courtesy image).

Think before you keep

You’ve already heard that the bee decline is cause for real alarm and action, but let me quickly sum it up for you: No bees = no food = no people.

No wonder Coloradans are jumping in with both feet to help bees recover and thrive. Although there is no official data, one local expert I spoke with estimated there are over 1,000 backyard hives in Boulder County alone, and the hobby is trending up.

Every hive counts. But people who delve into beekeeping unaware can quickly get in over their heads; even do more harm than good.

“It’s important, for example, to be able to recognize disease in a hive before it can spread to other hives,” explains Tracy Bellheumer, lead beekeeper for Growing Gardens, the local non-profit dedicated to cultivating community through urban agriculture.

Growing Gardens is offering its popular backyard beekeeping classes this summer to both aspiring hobbyists and veteran keepers. The in-depth, hands-on series is designed to show people all they need to know to tend hives.

“Taking a class is perfect first step for anyone curious about beekeeping. It’s also a great way for longtime beekeepers to get a handle on what’s happening environmentally for bees right now,” explains Ms. Bellheumer, who will be teaching many of the classes. “The mites, pesticides, diseases and beetles harming colonies today are constantly changing.”

Interested? We’ve compiled some resources to get you going:


Summer Series:  Growing Gardens
Growing Garden’s educational classes and hands-on labs allow participants to directly experience the culture of the honey bee, while fostering connections to the land, environment and one another while gaining confidence in raising bees. The series also includes techniques for organic honey bee colony care, honey harvesting and processing wax to make candles, salves and balms.

Fall and Winter Series:  Boulder County Beekeepers Association
Whether you are just beginning to learn about the marvelous world of honey bees, already have beehives, or would simply like to be better informed about the issues facing the honey bee this class will be invaluable. The instructors come from a wide variety of backgrounds; be prepared to hear more than one answer to a single question! Honey Bee Swarm

Finally, if you’re not such a bee lover, and you see a swarm, please don’t kill the bees! Call the Swarm Hotline at 970-213-3099 for immediate help. Find out more at The Colorado Beekeepers Association.


Growing Gardens is our Featured Friend for May.  Next up: Growing Gardens breaks ground on its new orchard.