urban farming

Look who's #7

I picked the worst year to become a beekeeper. Since 2006, bees have had a rough go of it and 2014’s polar vortex-induced deep freeze wiped out around 50% of the hives in Indiana (some areas had a 90% die-off rate). My first year keeping bees and I lost all five of my hives. 

It was also kind of a crappy year to take up farming. The winter delayed progress on my site’s build-out and spring plantings. I rushed to build the farm in time for spring plantings and it left me sore and exhausted. Then we had a weirdly wet and mild summer that stunted my fruiting crops like tomatoes.

All this might have been enough to discourage me, but it didn’t even come close. Because I had a tremendous amount of support from friends, family, the people I work with, and my community, it hardly made a dent. Thank you. 

This recent article from the Indy Star says they expect big things from me in 2015. And who am I to let them (you) down? 

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.