The Prince’s Charities’ Northlands Youth Bee Club
From Spring until Fall, students from across the City gather at the Southernmost edge of Northlands to learn about and keep honeybees. Sponsored by the Prince’s Charities, the club has eight beehives on site and enough protective gear to keep stings to a minimum. Each week – weather permitted – we cover important beekeeping topics and perform our routine hive inspections.
The following is an account written by Jacob Tombs – one of our Youth Beekeepers.
Hi, my name is Jacob Tombs, I’m 14 years old and this year was my first year beekeeping. When I started bee club in May, I had no idea how to keep bees and now I feel confident that I could maintain some hives all by myself. What I must thank for this is the Northlands Bee Club. The Northlands Bee Club is a group of young beekeepers that meets every Thursday from early May to early November (roughly one beekeeping season). Some people are completely new to the club (like me) and for others it was their second year, as Bee Club was only founded in 2016. Under the guidance of Dustin Bajer, we learned the basics of how to keep bees and some other interesting information on bees.
There are several reasons why bee club was very fun, useful and interesting. First, it is completely unique. As far as I know, there is no other group in the city of Edmonton that teaches young people how to keep bees. One of the things I really enjoyed, was how over the summer the bees built up. The hives started out small, only one or two boxes, and then by the fall some hives were up to six boxes high. I found it very satisfying to see the bees grow in number and in strength. Another thing that was awesome was the taste of the honey. Most of the honey you buy in the grocery store has a bland plain taste but, our honey had a lighter more interesting taste that comes from all the different species of flower in people’s gardens and in the river valley.
Another one of my favorite things about bee club was the field trips, we went on three throughout the time that bee club met. The first one was a trip to Beary Berry honey to see what a commercial beekeeping operation was like and to Alberta Nukes which makes nukes (mini hives that you get in the spring to create new hives) to learn about nuc hives.
Our second field trip was a walking tour of some of the hives in the downtown Edmonton area, we visited a hives at the Shaw ConferenceCentre and the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald and a protected tree because, Dustin happens to also be studying protected trees in Edmonton.
The last field trip, which was my favorite, was a trip to one of the NAIT labs where we studied bees under a microscope and dissected them.
Finally, I met a lot of new people that had the same interests as me and I learned a lot of things that had absolutely nothing to do with beekeeping but, that were interesting all the same. For example, did you know that carrots flower on the second year after they are planted?
In conclusion, bee club is interesting, fun and useful if you ever want to keep bees and the club is (amazingly!) completely free!