• Angela Giacobbo

Un-bee-lievable Bees

By Angela Giacobbo


A bee crawling up the side of a wooden deck and white lattice with white flowers in the foreground.
Photo courtesy of Angela Giacobbo

Have you heard the buzz? Alberta’s bees make up ~40% of the honey bees in Canada, and we have the largest beekeeping industry in the country (Government of Alberta Beekeeping Information). Not only are bees those fuzzy pollinators keeping gardens fresh, but they are cool insects to care for with delicious and nifty rewards. Keep reading for ways to diversify your garden, how to step into the world of beekeeping, and a bee-focused recommended read.


Building a bee-friendly backyard


If beekeeping isn’t your goal but you want to bee-friend some little critters, look at the plants growing in your backyard (or on your balcony)! Certain plants attract bees more readily than others. The secret to bringing in the bees? Plants native to the province.

There’s no need to go tearing up your flowerbeds, but consider the bloom times of your flowers and spaces that need some new plants. Alberta Native Bee Council shares some native plants you might want to add to your outdoor space:


Wildflowers

  • Blanket Flower

  • Giant Hyssop

  • Goldenrods

  • Meadow Blazingstar

  • Penstemons

  • Purple Prairie clover

  • Silvery Lupine

  • Sunflowers

  • Tufted White Prairie Aster

  • Wild Bergamot


Shrubs and Trees

  • Golden Currant

  • Kinnikinnik

  • Wild Red Raspberry

  • Saskatoon bush

  • Wild Rose

  • Willows

Keep in mind that there are countless native plants in Alberta that could help you diversify your garden. There is always more to learn and many resources to help you including information on seasonal plants in the Aspen Parkland Region of Alberta. You can also check out Wild about Flowers’s wildflower seed mixes to attract birds, bees, and butterflies.


Flower buds stand before blurred purple and white flowers.
Photo courtesy of Angela Giacobbo

Beekeeping beginners


Jumping into the world of beekeeping can be intimidating: so many resources and so much to do! Before skipping into licenses or registration, it is important to prepare with thorough, trusted research. Below are some places to start your research journey!


Forums


The best way to learn about beekeeping? From other beekeepers! Connecting with other beekeepers in Alberta is a great way to learn tips and tricks alongside finding others who share your passions. There are countless forums to connect with local beekeepers including Edmonton Urban Beekeepers, The Royal Alberta Urban Beekeeping Collective, and Beesource Beekeeping.


Guidelines


Depending on where you live and where you want to home your hives, you’ll find different guidelines. Often when people think about beekeeping, their minds move to an open field on a farm or acreage with nothing but fields of plants. There are many possibilities for beekeeping, including in residential areas of Edmonton. However, if you want to explore the world of urban beekeeping, you must note that it is a hobby. This means, you cannot sell your bees, honey, wax, or beekeeping products—it’s just you and your bees.

To pursue urban beekeeping, you’ll want to check out Edmonton’s Beekeeping Guidelines. From hive placement to inspections, the city has thorough outlines to make sure you and your bees are safe and thriving.


Mentors


To apply for an urban beekeeping license in Edmonton, you need to provide information about training and mentorship. Knowing someone with lived experiences and practical advice can help you avoid some disastrous situations and aid you in building confidence with bees.

Where can you find mentors? There are countless courses where you can gain training on beekeeping from Natural Elements Honey. There are two upcoming Beekeeping for Beginners courses: Beekeeping for Beginners April 23, 2022 and Beekeeping for Beginners May 14, 2022.


A hand holding up “Revery: A Year of Bees” by Jenna Butler which has bees surrounding a wooden hive entrance on the cover.
Photo courtesy of Angela Giacobbo

Revery: A Year of Bees by Jenna Butler


Ready for more bee content? Here’s a book to add to your shelves.


Following the lived experiences of Jenna Butler, an author and teacher, Revery shares hardships and learnings as Jenna and her husband work to maintain their farm and bees. With discussions of climate change, impacts of diversifying flowers, and the importance of bees in Jenna’s life, Revery offers insight into sustainable living and our connection to nature.


The book is both educational and reflective, encouraging readers to think about their lives in relation to nature. Digestible and easily available in local stores, Revery is a great personal memoir to add to your collection.

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