A common piece of advice for new beekeepers is to join a bee club. In Arizona there are no choices for Organic Beekeepers. When I started my research the first thing I did was try to find one to join. I searched online and I've asked a few very experienced treatment free beekeepers who live in other parts of Arizona just in case I missed something. Nope, there aren't any. Beekeepers who treat their bees with chemicals and have only used one type of hive box can be unwelcoming to those who choose not to treat bees or who use other hive styles. I wish them them well even though I get the sense that the feeling is not mutual.
So, what to do? Start one. I'd rather join one, but if I need to start one instead, I will do what needs to be done. If anyone reading this is already trying to start one. I want to join your club instead of starting one of my own. You can call the shots and I'll show up with cookies and tea. ;-)
Anyone wanting to start this with me should know that I am not an expert. I’ve read a few books and articles, I have two hives, I took a class and I attended a beekeeping conference. I consult with more experienced beekeepers on large non-local email lists and groups as well. I’m trying to start a local organic bee club only because there isn’t one for me to join. I know there are other organic beekeepers in the area that would benefit from shared knowledge and the occasional extra set of hands.
Because I'm the one starting it and I live in Mesa, I'd like to focus on Organic Beek's in the East Valley. To save my time and money, I'd like to avoid driving all over the place to connect with people. So far I've created a Facebook group as a rallying point. It seemed like the easiest way to start. If someone has a better (free) way to start an online meeting place please speak up. One person who has expressed an interest so far does not use Facebook.
If you are a beekeeper in the East Valley and you'd like to join me in this, let me know. I plan to keep it simple with quarterly face to face meetings and some sort of online communication. I'm new to Valley Permaculture Alliance so I'm not sure if I can use it as a communication site for a bee club.
What is Organic/Treatment Free Beekeeping?
1. No chemicals. If the bees wouldn't forage for it themselves, it probably does not belong in the hive. There are limited exceptions to this. Using lemongrass oil to bait a box or using a smoker to calm bees are examples of reasonable exceptions.
2. Hive Boxes. It does not matter what kind of hive box you prefer. They have there pro's and con's. Pick the one best for you.
3. Feeding bees anything but their own honey should only be done in few instances. A newly installed package of bees is an example of a time to feed sugar. They do not come with honey in the package and may need a few days of sugar water before they settle into their new home. Once your hive is established, never take more honey than your bees can affort to give. HFC is never ok.
I have a friend in AJ who has a hive or two. I'll pass this information along to him. Also, the VPA forums are a pretty good online meeting place. I haven't seen a group for beekeeping; you might be able to get one created.
I am interested in starting a hive or two in the next few years and am interested in joining and learning as much as I can. I also do not use facebook.
OK. You have missed starting this year, but you can read up and be prepared for next spring. I haven't had any meetings yet. I'll put you down as interested.
Please - please tell me more about your bees. I was just wondering if you are still working with your bees.
I am. :-) I have two hives.
back to you... I'm not sure about having hives in our backyard. How much space is appropriate for a single hive. Is there a liability factor? We would mostly just like to attract bees to our home made bee blocks. Do you have any advise for a new-bee. (pun intended)
reply to self (feels weird...) to continue the interest.
We would love to have bees in our backyard this year. We live in a cul de sac with a large back yard, and have grow beds for vegetables, 16 fruit trees, 12 grape vines and 300 - 500 sunflowers popping thru the ground. We would love to have bees as an active part of our backyard. I would welcome any local help to advise on the start up do's and don'ts.
I have been scouring bee catalogs. I want to dive in, and start a hive. I am in Mesa, and would love to join, meet, and be involved in what you are doing. I have no experience, nor do I know anyone with any. But I want to have a hive so bad! Love what you are doing.
The only experience I have is from the two very large hives that are in trees in my back yard. They are very, very calm. What a wonderful job they do pollinating my acre! The drawback is that I am not able to harvest any honey, so having one hive would be great. I happen to know a bee keeper who is also an organic gardener. Additionally, a friend of mine had bees for years but now feels too old to continue this hobby. Have any meetings been scheduled?
I would like to start a very small organic hive however i'm smack dab in the middle of mesa. I understand as per the zoning rules that bees are allowed in Mesa for rural areas of mesa...I was going to look for a club and then start however southern and gilbert is not rural so my hopes were dashed. I hope more people join you because it is very cool thing that you are doing.
I too am looking for a bee club in Mesa. Built and top bar and just started keeping bees this year. Would be fine to share ideas and problems with like minded folk.