indianapolis

An Earth Day to Remember

On April 22, 2016, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett kicked off Earth Day with a bang. Or rather, a buzz.

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Our Save the Bees Indiana project - a collaboration between the Arts Council, Earth Charter Indiana, and Bee Public - has an art exhibit on display now at the Artsgarden downtown. 4th and 5th graders from all over Indiana created 3-D bee sculptures from recycled materials to raise awareness about bees and pollinators. 

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We gathered at this space on Earth Day morning, along with students and teachers from Sidener Academy, Center for Inquiry (they walked there!) and Butler Lab School (they rode IndyGo!). 

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The Mayor spoke and proclaimed it Indianapolis: A Bee Friendly City Day, recognizing that we depend on pollinators for a third of our food supply and that Indianapolis can do more to help their declining populations. This is the first step to creating a bee-friendly city! 

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At the end of the event, students presented bee sculptures to the mayor and we all did the waggle dance! 

#Repost @beelocal 
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Spent the afternoon with @katefranzman of Bee Public. Kate is doing fantastic work in Indianapolis around bees and education. It was a privilege watch her work one of our rooftop hives. #apiculture #beekeeping #oregon #portland #indiana #indianapolis #pdx #urbanbees #rooftopbees (at Imperial)

#Repost @beelocal
・・・
Spent the afternoon with @katefranzman of Bee Public. Kate is doing fantastic work in Indianapolis around bees and education. It was a privilege watch her work one of our rooftop hives. #apiculture #beekeeping #oregon #portland #indiana #indianapolis #pdx #urbanbees #rooftopbees (at Imperial)

Happy New Year!

What’s in store for 2015? 

- Bee Public will manage hives at each of Growing Places Indy’s urban microfarms, including the rooftop “Sky Farm” on top of the Eskenazi Hospital and the Public Greens farm along the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple. 

- More classes and talks including a beekeeping talk at Earth Day Indiana

- Bee Public is working with City Council members to regulate the use of neonicitinoid pesticides in Indy’s parks and public spaces. (Read more about this here.) 

I speak for the bees

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When I started Bee Public two-ish years ago, all I really had in mind was that I wanted to become a beekeeper and maybe I would make a little extra cash selling honey. That idea flew out the window along with another iteration that involved a lot of driving and a lot of managing hives in other people’s backyards. I decided early on that I was here to be a voice for the bees. A Lorax of sorts. 

I read up on the science and drama and magic that takes place inside the hive, a mini society just below the surface, and the molecules in my brain began to rearrange. I became giddy. Then I read articles and studies about Colony Collapse Disorder and migratory beekeeping and our horrendous agricultural practices in the U.S. and became angry. I believe it’s this combination of anger and giddiness that turns an ordinary person into an activist. And so activism, awareness, and education became the cornerstones of this project. It’s not about the honey or the money.

I taught probably a dozen Beekeeping 101 classes last summer to both kids and adults, made visits to co-op grocery stores and classrooms. But I have the nagging feeling it’s not enough. And so here I go getting into politics. I put my journalism background to good use and connected with someone at Beyond Pesticides who handed me a ton of information. I’ve met with two of our city council members in the hopes that I can get regulations passed on the use of neonicitinoid pesticides in our parks and public spaces. Indy’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is in charge of the bug killing in our city. DPW uses at least one neonicitinoid (bee-killing) pesticide called dinotefuran aka “Safari” to treat for the Emerald Ash Borer. A recently study from USGS found “widespread occurence” of neonics in groundwater in the Midwest. According to the USGS map for clothianidin, Indianapolis is right in the middle of high application levels of neonics. 

I can’t really expect Indianapolis to halt use of all pesticides, so I’m obliged to give an alternative to the neonics– one of three parasitoids that have been approved for release as biological control agents of EAB in the U.S. by the USDA. The least-toxic alternative is Azadirachin, a natural neem oil extract that has very low toxicity to honey bees, but good efficacy against EAB. Additionally, neonics are mobile in soil, which means that any amount that doesn’t get taken up by the ash tree can be taken up by flowering plants in the area, and then expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew droplets that the plant produces. And, while bees don’t seek out ash trees, they will occasionally visit their flowers.

Cities including Spokane, WA and Boulder, CO have already banned present and future use of neonics. Anyway, this will be a long process. We have a new mayor coming in and I can only hope he is receptive these ideas. Wish me luck and give me lots and lots of advice.  

Feelin’ the love today! An excellent writeup about Bee Public by local urban homesteading/sustainable lifestyle writer and all-around inspiring woman,  Shawndra Miller :  
 “Kate Franzman is one of many fabulous people who keep the “indie” in Indianapolis. Concerned about the die-off of honeybees, she started Bee Public with a goal of increasing the number of honeybees in our city. The organization has placed hives at several urban farms, including one right in my neighborhood.” 
 Check out the full post  here .

Feelin’ the love today! An excellent writeup about Bee Public by local urban homesteading/sustainable lifestyle writer and all-around inspiring woman, Shawndra Miller

“Kate Franzman is one of many fabulous people who keep the “indie” in Indianapolis. Concerned about the die-off of honeybees, she started Bee Public with a goal of increasing the number of honeybees in our city. The organization has placed hives at several urban farms, including one right in my neighborhood.”

Check out the full post here.

It's easy to bee confused

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When I first entered the world of beekeeping, boy was I confused. And I’m not just talking about that time I got stuck in my bee suit.

Few industries use so many interchangeable terms to describe their equipment and methodology as beekeeping. For example — the individual boxes that make up a Langstroth hive stack may be referred to simply as supers, or they may be called deeps, mediums or shallows, an indication of their size.

The beeswax comb that the bees build inside their nest might be called wax, or foundation, or comb, or brood comb, or honeycomb — similar terms and yet they mean different things. And how does one sort out the nuances of colony versus hive? Or frame versus top bar?

Read more: http://bit.ly/11VEj4V

Location, location, location

The bees arrive in a week. I will pick them up from Wildflower Ridge Honey Farm in a small box called a nucleus or “nuc." 

Compared to established hives, a nuc usually consists of just five frames of brood (baby bees), bees, and a queen. A mini-hive. 

Where will the hives go? Since Bee Public’s mission is to bring bees into cities, originally I wanted to put my hives in the most urban places I could think of. Rooftops, fire escapes. But luck, circumstance, and an amazingly supportive network of friends led me to these two locations for my first two hives. 

Hive location #1: Leah and Tito’s backyard in Fletcher Place

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Internet, meet Tito. Tito, The Internet. L + T are among my closest friends and they live just a few minutes from Fountain Square in the Fletcher Place neighborhood. Leah and I played roller derby together, so we have a very special bond. She and Tito have put a lot of hard work into their home and backyard so I’m so excited to bring a hive into such a gorgeous and well-nourished space. 

Hive Location #2: Arlington Farms, Indianapolis

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Christina Hatton of Arlington Farms is a busy bee. She and her husband teamed up with another family to start a brand new, 3-acre organic urban farm + CSA just south of Irvington. The bees from my hive will help pollinate the local produce growing there and I hope to learn a thing or two about what it takes to run an urban farm in the process. What a great partnership!

My next lesson will include figuring out the best spot on each property to place the hives. Sounds like future blog post fodder to me.

There's no place like hive

I met Stevie at Bee School. He’s Amish, has braces, and looks to be just shy of his 17th birthday. I’m not sure that last part is true, but I really like Stevie and I like that I can drive up to his bee supply store on his farm in Greencastle, Indiana (took me about an hour to get there from Fountain Square) to buy hives + other bee supplies.

I could just order online, but instead I wanted to 1. Buy local 2. Get my questions answered face to face 3. Have a cool experience. And I’ll take any excuse for a rural road trip + farm visit. 

Here’s where I bought my hives: 

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Other places you could buy your hives + beekeeping supplies: 

I realized I forgot to pick up a few things at Crystal Waters, so I may drive to RJ Honey just to have a different, local experience. 

Many questions like children often do

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The cool thing about beekeeping? (I mean, besides everything)? There’s a ton of info out there: websites, blogs, books, youtube videos, other beekeepers. 

Today there was a guy talking urban beekeeping at the Flower and Patio Show (above). Beekeeping is everywhere, you guys. 

All that info can be overwhelming for a a wannabe beekeeper. In Indiana we have TWO beekeeping associations to choose from. Why are there two, and which one do I join!? (I’ll answer that later)

At this point, a month before I “adopt” my bees, I have three questions weighing on my mind, which I’ll explore over three separate posts: 

1. How should I get my bees? (I already know the answer to this one! YAY!)

2. Who should I buy my hives from? (I don’t know!)

3. Where should my bees live? (I’m still not really sure, but I think I know!)

Stay tuned. 

Modern Farmer: Honeygate: Five people and two U.S. honey processors charged with illegally importing Chinese honey

modfarm:

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Food Safety News, which broke the story in 2011 that nearly three-fourths of the honey sold in the US may be improperly labeled, reports that charges have been filed and major fines levied against U.S. honey importers for smuggling in Chinese honey. Helena Bottemiller reports that honey…