A bee can fly up to two miles. He didn’t fly, but local beekeeper, Andy Kurosz towed a demonstration hive buzzing with live bees, an empty hive, smokers, a bee-keeping suit, and his two daughters, over 50 miles from Warwick, New York to the Fulton Stall Market to teach us the basics of beekeeping last month as part of NYC’s Honey Week. He spoke of his hobby-turned-business, Sweet Things Wild Thyme and Honey, and taught us the basics of beekeeping— the structures, the lingo— which was of course aided by plentiful samples of his different varieties of raw, local honey.
Dozens of aspiring NYC beekeepers swarmed the demonstration hive at our Super Building Workshop. (A “super” by the way, is a wooden box that holds frames where bees build their honeycombs.) Couldn’t make it out to the workshop? Here are some tips and take-aways gleaned from the event:
- If you are looking to start a hive, start in late winter around March. If you build your own hive, expect to pay around $250 for parts, plus around $100 for bees. It’s an investment, so you will want to guard against vandalism and weather. Other supplies you’ll need are a bee-keeping suit and a smoker.
- When choosing your location, it is important to think about good year-round nectar flow, or nectar production. Linden trees are one of the best food sources for bees, and will boost your nectar flow. Great news – they are one of 10 of the most common tree species found on the streets of NYC.
- “Nucs,” or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger ones. These are often 5-frame hives that require care and feeding. You’ll see postings for these around April, when the weather reaches the magic bee-friendly temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit. You can transfer frames from the nuc to your hive, encouraging the bees to settle there.
- Once your hive is going strong, you only need to visit your bees ever 2 or 3 weeks. You will know if something is not right if you open the hive and there is an “off” odor. When you check on the bees, be aware that the bees are very sensitive to human stress, so take a deep breath and approach them calmly.
- You can expect to harvest honey once a year if you are lucky. Remember, bees need at least 75 pounds of honey to get them through the winter.
If you go for it, the results are sweet, that’s for sure. What better way to end the workshop than with a tasting of their raw and unprocessed honey and honeycombs? After countless samples of pumpkin flower, apple blossom, watermelon blossom, and clover honey, we knew the subtleties of each field where Andy raises his hives. It’s amazing to taste such differences in flavor!
Come down to our home base at Local Roots NYC General Store at 207A Front Street, or sign up this winter for our honey CSA share so that you can sample some of Andy’s amazing honey, propolis, and bee pollen. It’s worth it.