The Buzz on Backyard Beekeeping

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EUGENE, Ore. — There’s a buzz in Lane County, and it’s all about the bees.

More people are showing an interest in backyard beekeeping, like Dave Weber.

Despite being retired, he’s busier than ever. It all started four years ago. He planted about 140 vines for making wine. He also invested in chickens.

“We get six to seven eggs a day. Different kinds of chickens lay different color of eggs,” Weber said.

Now add in two bee hives.

“They are fun. They have their own traditions, their own way of talking with each other. They do their own little dances,” said Weber.

Every year Weber harvests his honey. It’s a benefit of urban farming. That’s not all. Pollinating bees are helping his trees and vegetables.

Weber is just one of many new backyard bee keepers. According to the Lane County Beekeepers Association, the sudden surge is directly related to concern about colony collapse. In 1976, 26 beekeepers belonged to the association. Now there are close to 250 members.

Dick Turanski knows a thing or two about bees. He started his first hive 35 years ago. Now he owns GloryBee Foods in west Eugene, supplying new beekeepers with items for getting started.

Protective clothing is a must have: a netted hat and gloves. Turnaski says books are also a great resource. Another requirement: a home for the hive.

The boxes come ready to assemble. The bottom box is called the deep super, where the queen lives.

Once the combs fill up, you add a second box and again, let the bees produce honey. Then you’re ready for the next layer. The third box, called the western, is where you get your honey. If you hive is healthy you can see honey in the western in about three months, but the honey in the other two levels is for the bees.

Turns out Weber, our urban farmer, improvises a little with a turkey hunting hat for keeping bees away. He also uses rubber gloves and long-sleeve shirt and jeans when harvesting.

It’s a good thing harvesting is happening soon. From his two hives, he can get about 60 pounds of honey.

For anyone interested, the best time to start a hive is in spring. Click here for more information.

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