Bees in my Back Yard
See also some more photos + videos: Beez!.
Since I can't feasibly have some tasty pigs frolicking in my back-yard, I took the next "logical" step: get some bees! Last year I went to the Calgary Area Beekeepers' AGM for some overview information (i.e. "is it legal?") The answer is, "yes, for now". The City is apparently considering legislation to get around the "loophole" in the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw which doesn't mention bees, but this will likely allow 3-ish hives if they do what the Calgary Beekeepers suggest.
(Although since the City's bait-and-switch on chickens, who knows...)
Anyway. So this spring I took a course organized by A.B.C (Apiaries and Bees for Communities) with a beekeeper from the Edmonton area. Eliese (ABC) is organizing more courses and events through the summer; check them out! I also ordered a "nuc" (nuclear colony) from B.C via Eliese (ABC). I got some used hive equipment from the father of a friend of ours who is scaling back his bee-keeping.
After a few hicups with getting the bees to my yard (namely: they were a little late and we were then on holidays), I finally got the "nuc" frames installed in my one-box-big hive. So far so good. Art then delivered the rest of my hive stuff (two more boxes with 10 frames each, all with already-drawn comb on them; great!) and I again opened the hive to check on it and install the new box under the first (perhaps not ideal, but Art suggested the "bonus" entrance should end up on the middle box).
I am about 92% sure I spotted the queen, and definitely saw some very young (uncapped) brood in some cells so that's a good sign. There was some honey getting packed away on at least one frame and lots more pollen coming in. My expert assessment says they look pretty good.
Here I am adding the second brood box and generally making said expert assessment:
Most people want to know how much "activity" there is: does our back yard now swarm with bees? No, it doesn't. You can walk right up to the hive and check the bees out, and generally don't see too much of them if you're not looking. In the height of the afternoon, if it's sunny, you can see a couple dozen bees coming and going from the hive. We did buy an EpiPen on the off chance someone comes over who is allergic and gets stung.
I do notice bees in general more, but I don't think there's many more in our yard. Realistically, they need to disperse quite far to find enough flowers and so most of the foragers from my hive will not be in my yard.
They are very fun to watch, though, and most people seem to be fascinated by the whole business. I will update this article through the year as more fun stuff happens.