Connecting Beekeepers Through Community, Resources, and Education
I’ve been tending bees for over a decade and always learning something new and surprising about these lovely little creatures. One of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of beekeeping is that the learning never ends. To further confuse things, most books, websites, and communities serve commercial beekeepers. Fundamentally, folks with a few hives enjoy beekeeping and want healthy, thriving colonies. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to produce honey, but it is a secondary goal for many backyard and small-scale beekeepers. When honey production plays second fiddle, innovative techniques emerge that are great for bees but limit honey production. Techniques like keeping small colonies and managing mites by making splits. That’s why, in 2021, I started The Bee Community (BeeComm).
BeeComm Beekeeping Courses and Community
Pre-pandemic, I taught the City of Edmonton beekeeping courses at the John Janzen Nature Centre and a Youth Beekeeping Club. I also wrote local beekeeping articles like 13 Steps to Start Beekeeping in Edmonton. When covid hit, in-person classes came to a halt, and everything moved online. While fundamentally still “stand and deliver,” the initial online course was a big success but had limited time for questions and community building. In 2021, I reworked the Beekeeping Certificate Course around a community platform, pre-recorded all lessons for folks who want to learn at their own pace, and hosted weekly question and answer sessions. The resulting platform, BeeComm, contains more tools, resources, tips, videos, and opportunities for community collaboration.
The Power of the BeeComm Community
When you only have one hive, your winter survival rate is one hundred percent or nothing. More hives make it easier to recover from winter losses, but most small-scale beekeepers don’t have that luxury. But what if local small-scale beekeepers could coordinate like they had many hives? Imagine giving a split to someone in the community because you know the community will return the favour when needed. Not only would this soften the blow of losing your hive, but it would be less expensive while encouraging the local beekeepers to propagate their healthiest colonies. This is the kind of activity that can only be accomplished through community coordination. We can also coordinate swarm-catching and mentorship opportunities. What would you like to see?