FREE WINTER COURSE LECTURE 1
New York Arsenal
Central Park, 64th St, and 5th Ave.
The first lecture of the Fall Series given by New York City Beekeeping took place at the New York Arsenal last Wednesday, November 10th. The Arsenal is a huge old building located just inside Central Park where East 64th Street terminates at 5th Avenue.
Jim Fischer conducted the class and Liane Newton, the current Organizer of NYC Beekeeping, handled the sign-in table and helped keep things moving along.
The room was packed and most of the seats were taken by the time I arrived. Over 140 people had signed up for the series of FREE beekeeping classes and some people had to be put on a waiting list.
As more people arrived and people were left standing without seats, Liane and I went up one floor to the outdoor terrace and brought down 10 extra seats. The seats were a little stiff from not being opened and closed regularly so it took a bit of trial and error, as well as a bit of muscle, to get them set up. Eventually everyone had a place to sit.
In the meantime Jim had started the slide show. I’d seen some of his slides before at various events conducted by the NYC Beekeeping MeetUp this summer, but most covered material that was new to me.
The material covered was both interesting and informative. It included introductory material about the different kinds of bees, the anatomy of the hive, and the kinds of forage available to bees in NYC.
One fact Jim mentioned that may not seem immediately obvious to new and future beekeepers in the City:
Bees make their living mostly off trees.
So trees provide the majority of bee food in the city. Beekeepers need to know more about city trees and be involved in the city treescape. The City has a program called A Million Trees. Beekeepers should make a effort to influence the types of trees planted to insure that they are species that provide forage for our bees.
(This is a good place for me mention that I am putting together a Google Map of bee-related information for New York City. The map will contain the location of forage trees, empty and abandoned lots in need of flower seeds, and the approximate locations of bee hives – located to the nearest block or intersection to protect beekeeper privacy.)
One of Jim’s slides two columns showing the contrasts between what the bees want and what the beekeeper wants. The following is from my notes, and I only jotted down the beekeepers wants, so the bee side of the table below may not be completely accurate.
| The Bees Want: || The Beekeeper Wants: |
| Build-up ON the bloom. || Build-up BEFORE the bloom. |
| To use any queen they can come up with. || To keep the queen provided. |
| Produce a normal number of drones. || Produce fewer drones. |
| To reproduce by swarming. || NO SWARMS !!! |
| Make honey to survive the winter. || Make as much honey as possible. |
| Make new comb when needed. || Make new comb often on the beekeepers whim. |
| To defend their hive. || As few stings as possible. |
One item that came up during the discussion was that Tim, who has kept bees for thirteen years and runs the blog Borough Bees, is interested in obtaining one or more swarms of bees to provide hives for the Value Added project in Red Hook. So keep him in mind when swarming season arrives if you wind up with an extra swarm and no place to put it.
The series of 10 (or possibly more) classes will be the equivalent of a college course in beekeeping.
This set of classes and demonstrations is intended to provide a cost-free comprehensive foundation for new beekeepers and to foster a community of cooperative beekeepers who work together throughout the year to help each other learn more about beekeeping.
The goal of NYC Beekeeping is to operate in a non-profit mode, to help people get own bee equipment at a discount through group purchases. Larger pieces of equipment to harvest wax and honey will be shared as a group co-op purchase.
People will be given an opportunity to extract and bottle their own honey as a group in a proper commercial kitchen. People were told that messing up their own kitchens is something they would not want to do.
(All of the above is a refreshing contrast to other bee “courses” I have seen offered in the city that provide a single one-day class for something like $150. The other organization also asked for part of your honey crop if you used their equipment to extract your honey. )