DISCOUNT BOOKINGS- Lunch and Learns and Private Field Days

If you have ever wanted to have a GREAT team building activity, lunch and learn, or party? Look no further!

A.B.C offers Beekeeping Field Days, Bike Tours, and Beekeeping 101 Training and if booked before August 1, receive up to a 25% discount on the booking!


“A wealth of information – also lots of scientific facts that made the course really interesting.  I don’t think there was one question that she couldn’t answer.  I’m looking forward to attending some of the hive inspection opportunities and I hope to go to the Bee Swarming class.” -Daphne, attended A.B.C’s Level One Beekeeping Course

“I highly recommend Eliese Watson as an accomplished and enthusiastic speaker.”- Kate, Queensland Garden Club, Calgary

“I was so scared of bees, but when we got in to the beehive, I was surprised at how my attitude changed. I am in love with bees now and want to do it again! No one will believe that I actually held live bees in my hands!” -Jocelyn, Beekeeping Field Day Student

Private Field Days!


Organize a Private Hive inspection. We have it all covered: the bees, the suits, and the most beautiful locations in the city! You bring up to 10 people, and we will organize the rest: 2 hours of BEES


NOW $300

Private Bee Yard Bike Tours!


Organize a Private Hive inspection via bicycle. Take an easy and meandering bike tour of beehives along the city’s river valley. We have it all covered: the bees, the suits, and the most beautiful locations in the city! You bring up to 10 people, and we will organize the rest: 3 hours of BEES, light snacks, and mead tastings


NOW $450

Staff Lunch and LearnIMG_8260

We will come to your workplace and offer a 40 minute orientation about honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees. Share information about how you can encourage bee health in your yards, and answer to issues in conservation. We will offer honey tastings and bees to have a look at. All from the comfort of YOUR office.


NOW $450


Please contact us by emailing Eliese Watson (tour guide and educator) at eliese @

Beekeeping News and Anti-Spam Law

As many of you are likely aware, on July 1, 2014 the Government of Canada introduced the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL). Its aim is to ensure that you only receive emails from companies that have your expressed consent to send them to you. It protects your privacy.

CASL is a great opportunity to be sure that Apiaries and Bees for Communities is reaching the people who truly want to hear from us. If you are receiving this email, it is because you signed up to receive A.B.C newsletters online or at one of our events. During the CASL transition period, consent obtain in this way is implied however, we now need your express consent to continue sending A.B.C newsletter.

By staying connected with A.B.C you can continue to hear about our beekeeping courses, receiving beekeeping tips, learning about pollinator issues and staying current on exciting upcoming events.


After December 31, if you do NOT renew you subscription, your email address will NOT be added to our ongoing email newsletters and we will miss you. If you have decided to continue receiving emails, thank you! We appreciate your interest and support!

We will be sending express consent forms out in September. Otherwise,  you can officially sign up to receive our newsletter on our homepage!

Thank you for helping us move forward with staying compliant with government regulations and ensuring that you are getting what you want out of your favorite local bee-news!

Indiegogo Campaign- We raised $770, 25% of our goal!

As the campaign concludes for our Community Hive Fundraiser, we would like to thank all of you for supporting, sharing and aiding in our fundraising to keep the Community Hive up and running. The money raised will pay for the highlighted goals of our fundraising.

Our 2014 Budget

Community Hive Bee Meeting Venue    $150

Swarm Catchers Meeting Venue     $150

Lilac Festival  Booth $300

Day of the Honeybee Event  $170 of $250



Discussion Board@ $53.50/mo    $642 (A.B.C pays monthly)

Home and Garden Show Info Booth  $800 (A.B.C paid for it)

Yellow Tie Affair $500 (Now Cancelled)

Community Hive Website/ Swarm Form  $275 (A.B.C paid for it)

TOTAL  $2217.00

The Impact

Because we only made 25% of our goal, we may have to close down the COMMUNITY HIVE DISCUSSION BOARD. A.B.C is struggling to pay for all of the FREE educational programs that we offer. We are hoping that we can keep the page afloat until swarm season is complete, but unless we are able to raise the funds, we may have to shut it down.

Please contact us directly if you are able to help us out. We are a Social-Entrepreneurial Business in Canada, with the same values as B-Corp businesses in the US. We are trying to innovate the beekeeping industry, inspire repossible social partnerships in business, and build dividends that reflect a better life for everyone, including the bees. If you are interested in funding any of these programs that are likely to be closed down this fall without your support, please email us at info@backyardbees . ca



Urban Beekeeping Good Neighbour Policy

@YEGBees Crew, neighbours keeping bees together!

@YEGBees Crew, neighbours keeping bees together!

Bee a Good Neighbour

In rural areas honeybees can happily roam for kilometres without encountering neighbours or other animals. Not so in the city. Unexpected close encounters and

misunderstandings about honeybee behavior are a recipe for fear-based reactions and negative impressions about urban beekeeping. While public education can help alleviate some honeybee anxiety, it is the responsibility of beekeepers to ensure that their neighbours are comfortable with their bees and that they are keeping bees in a manor that minimizes unwanted encounters.

Speak to Your Neighbours Before Getting Bees

-  Most people are curious and open to the idea of a neighbour with honeybees, especially if a little honey sweetens the deal. However, serious allergies, children and pets may be cause for concern. Talk to your neighbours about what they can expect, answer their questions and, if possible, offer to take them to see a friend’s hives. If your neighbours are adamantly against having bees next door try to find a more suitable location for your hives.

Ensure Your Bees Have a Source of Water

Bees drinking water at Rouge Restaurant Calgary

Bees drinking water at Rouge Restaurant Calgary

-  Honeybees will search out convenient sources of water to drink and to help cool their hive. It is up to the beekeeper to ensure that this source is not their neighbour’s kiddie pool. Provide a fresh, consistent source of water near their hive. There should also be rocks or wood

in the water for the bees to rest on.

Prevent Swarms

-  Though swarming is natural it can be a nuisance to neighbours and can be misinterpreted and sensationalized to the detriment of beekeeping. Close monitoring in spring is necessary to ensure that the bees do not feel cramped and that the queen has enough room to expand the brood nest. Additional information about swarm prevention can be found here: 

July Swarm

July Swarm

Beekeeping in an urban area can be an incredibly rewarding experience and often has advantages such as lower pesticide exposure and greater and more varied forage. Good beekeeping and good relationships with neighbours can ensure that beekeeping remains legal and that beekeepers are welcomed in urban environments.

Bumble bee hives and lifecycle

They’re hard to miss. Big, fuzzy balls rolling around in pollen or the low hum of their flight muscles as they meander through the yard in search of flowers. It’s finally bumblebeenest2summer and the bumblebees are back!

In the spring, bumblebee queens emerge from their hibernaculum (a cavity where they remain dormant over winter) and begin to search for a summer nesting site. Once a suitable nest is found, the queen will begin to store pollen and lay eggs. It takes roughly four weeks for the first bees to develop. Once the worker bees have matured they will take over the job of foraging and caring for larvae. After the worker population is established, the queen will begin to lay new queen bees and male bees. Once mature, the queens and males will leave the nest to mate. The males soon die and the mated queens search for their own hibernaculum to wait out the winter.

Sadly, bumblebee populations (and many other native bee species) are on the decline, struggling with pesticide use and habitat loss and fragmentation. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to help bumblebees thrive!


Avoid Pesticide Use – In your yard and in your food

-  Pesticides on plants and in pooling water can make bees sick. Instead, encourage the development of a healthy ecosystem that supports many insect and bird species that can help keep pests in check.

-  Avoid buying foods that have been grown with the use of pesticides. Widespread application of these chemicals in agricultural areas can affect countless bees.


Plant Pollinator-Friendly Flowers – In your yard, on your balcony at your school!

-  Bumblebees need plenty of pollen and nectar to create a strong healthy colony. Bumblebees are native to Canada and it fits that the best flowers are those native to your area.

-  The David Suzuki website has some great tips for creating a pollinator-friendly garden

-  We have put together a plant and pollen list for Alberta and BC. Have a look at it here

Pollen and Nectar Plant Guide


Create or Preserve Bumblebee Nesting Sites

- As a ground-nesting species, most bumblebees will look for an old rodent hole or wood pile to make a nest. In the city, bumblebees tend to be found in old bird nests, soffits, under decks and near foundations. Having a bumblebee nest in your yard may be a little unnerving however, bumblebees are very docile, unlikely to sting and their nests are usually no bigger than your hand and containing 40-100 bees. They no not cause damage to your house and in the fall, when the nest dies you can close up the entrance to prevent it from being used next year.

- If you’re lucky enough to have a nest in your yard, try to leave them for the season, as they, along with most other native bees, struggle with habitat loss. If you must move the nest, this website has some great advice:

If you want to learn more about these loveable little guys and other pollinators, visit the Xerces site. It has fantastic information on gardening for pollinators, habitat preservation and information on how to get involved with bumblebee tracking programs! The bees will thank you for it and so will your garden!

Bees4Communities Profile: Ox and Angela and UNA Pizza + Wine

Two popular Calgary restaurants have returned for their 2nd year with the Bees4Communities program. Both the Ox and Angela and UNA Pizza + Wine hives survived this past winter and have taken full advantage of the Dandelion nectar flow. In just over a week, A.B.C will be delivering a third hive to the OX and UNA river valley apiary. With two strong hives and a third on its way, OX and UNA are likely to have a great honey harvest this year.

So what’s the plan for all that liquid gold?

UNA Pizza + Wine will be using their honey to drizzle some local sweetness on top of their famed 4-Maggi Pizza. Cheese, truffle oil and honey, what could be better?! UNA recently demo’d their 4-maggi pizza at the Day of the Honeybee Farmer’s Market at Hillhurst Sunnyside. Needless to say, market-goers were thrilled!

The chefs over at Ox and Angela also have a few tasty plans for their 2014 harvest. Liquid honey will be used in a few of their cocktails and featured in owner Jayme Mcfayden’s favorite, The Basil and the Bee. Comb honey from their hives will be served alongside their Queso Platter, featuring a selection of fabulous Spanish cheeses from Calgary’s Peasant Cheese. We’re crossing our fingers for a spring harvest, so keep an eye on Ox and UNA’s websites to find out when you can get a taste of their fantastic local honey.

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Swarm Suppression

Dearth between Dandelion and Clover is the DANGER ZONE

On of the most important aspects of spring management in a beehive is swarm suppression. Swarming is an entirely natural act of perpetuating a colony’s population however, it creates an interruption in the building of the brood nest and the loss of worker bees can reduce overall honey harvest. It can also be seen as a nuisance, especially in urban areas, and can generate public concern and negative attention towards beekeeping.

Swarms can occur if the bees force a weak queen to leave or, more commonly, if a colony begins to feel too cramped in its hive. In preparation for the swarm, the queen will lay eggs into large ‘queen cells’ and the workers will feed the larvae exclusively on royal jelly to produce new queens. When it is time to swarm, the queen and roughly half of the worker bees will leave to scout for a new hive location. Though it may look frightening, the bees are more docile in a swarm than at any other time. The remaining bees will become loyal to the strongest of the queens to hatch from her cell.

Swarms often occur after a bout of poor, rainy weather, when the bees have been cooped up in the hive with high humidity and reduced airflow. To help prevent swarm activity it is crucial to provide both sufficient space and ventilation. The queen must have enough space to expand the brood nest and the workers must have adequate storage for the nectar flow. Space can be created in the hive by checker-boarding the brood nest; alternating full frames with frames of empty comb. Beekeepers can also add extra brood or honey supers.

If you don’t have extra comb?

It is IMPERETIVE that you checkerboard with empty frames or bars (TBH) throughout the whole hive DURING the dandelion flow and consolidate the brood in the bottom boxes and honey in the top boxes. Your brood (if a queen excluder hasn’t been used) will be mostly in the top box. This is because the the top box is the warmest place. You will need to change this around or the colony will become honeybound when the queen wants to move down and can’t because of honey stores.

The difference between Queen Cups and Queen Cells?

Queen cups are formations of wax that are placed by the bees in the brood nest throughout the season. I like to think that if I find more than 4 queen cups, that my bees may be thinking about preparing for an eventual swarm. This means I have time to act on making space (how to is stated above).

Queen cells are a different story. If your hive is full of queen cells, cells that have royal jelly and larva in them, you have missed your chance and it is time to make a Forced Swarm Split or catch them (much harder to schedule nature).

Keep in mind that swarm mitigation steps are far more effective if action is taken before there is a problem. Early, careful monitoring of hives is important during spring build-up in order to ensure that a hive can expand as needed. If you are on the ball, swarm risks can be greatly reduced and overall productivity of the hive can be improved.

If you are not a beekeeper and you spot a swarm, there are usually local beekeeping organizations that will remove the swarm.

In Calgary, A.B.C operates a swarm catching group that can be contacted at:


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