Some of you may have noticed the crocuses in bloom, daffodil shoots emerging from the soil or a honeybee lazily flying by your window – all beautiful indicators that spring is on its way!
As the snow melts from our gardens, we might start to think about this upcoming season. What to plant? Which veggies to grow?
As a beekeeper first, gardener second, my garden strategy is always tailored to the concept of continuous bloom – what can I plant that provides food for pollinators from early March all the way until late fall? Continuous bloom is an important concept because it provides a consistent food source for all pollinators from the time they emerge from ‘hibernation’ back to winter time again. For the honeybees, it is important because it reduces the amount of supplement feed beekeepers must provide to their colonies – this is when we feed our honeybees granulated sugar and pollen patties when no flowers are in bloom. In addition, you might want to think about plants that have long blooming periods, such as lavender and leaving weeds, such as dandelions and clover, as they tend to be an early food source for bees.
For those aspiring beekeepers, now is the best time to inquire about getting started. So where do you even begin? The Comox Valley Bee Club is a wonderful hub of knowledge. They hold meetings once a month with guest speakers, and at the end of April, they will be offering a beekeeping 101 course, which you can sign up by connecting with the president of the Comox Valley Bee Club or go to the Comox Valley Beekeepers Association Facebook for more information. There are also plenty of online forums for beekeeping, such as the Vancouver Island Beekeepers group, where a collective of beekeepers help each other problem-solve hive issues and answer general beekeeping questions.
Once you’ve started, where do you get the equipment and how do you find continuous support? Home Grown Bee is a beekeeping supplier in the Comox Valley (Merville) and has the equipment to get you started or help you grow your apiary. They also provide one-on-one education sessions held at your very own apiary to help you feel confident when inspecting your own hives. There is a strong beekeeping community in the Comox Valley and a supportive collective to help you as the beekeeping season progresses.
Happy spring and happy beekeeping.
Rachel Halliwell is a Bee Master Certified beekeeper in the Comox Valley. Her website is www.homegrownbee.ca