It’s all about BEES this spring at Fellows Riverside Gardens! Yesterday, we received additional hives to install in our Family Garden, and we now have our own honey and beeswax candles for sale! Read on to learn more about our buzzzzzzy friends!
NEW BEES COME TO THE FAMILY GARDEN: Mandy Smith, FRG Horticulture Education Manager talked to Lori Mowad, FRG Horticulture Educator, and Don Kovach, Beekeeper with the Columbiana and Mahoning County Beekeepers Association to find out more about our new friends!
MS: Why were additional honeybee hives installed in the Family Garden?
LM/DK: We are installing two additional hives, plus replacing one from the two original hives from 2013 that were lost to the cold winter. We wanted to install two more hives to continue educating the public about the importance of pollinators to our health and nutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, out of approximately 100 crop species which provide 90% of our food worldwide, 71 are bee-pollinated! Honey is one of the best natural sweeteners and there are now studies being conducted on the benefits of local honey for allergy sufferers.
MS: Where did these hives originate?
LM/DK: All three hives are fresh from working the almond crops in California. They are an Italian breed of honeybee. We are releasing four pounds of honeybees into these three hives; each pound contains approximately 3,000 bees.
MS: What will these new hives need in order to survive and prosper?
LM/DK: As we put the honeybees in their new hives, we provide them with pollen patties and sugar water, a 1:1 solution, as supplements – basically for a rainy day. The queen is kept in a special box with ‘queen candy’ that keeps her from the rest of the hive. All three queens are new, so it is important for the colony to acclimate to her pheromones before she is released into the hive. The queen candy is eaten by both her and the worker bees, which then releases her and establishes her as queen. If she is released before the bees adjust she may actually be mauled.
The bees being released into the boxes are buzzing around; this is known as their orientation flights. Once the sun begins to set they will settle into the hives and as soon as the weather is warm, they will start collecting pollen.
MS: Why is the Family Garden at Fellows Riverside Gardens such a great place for honeybees and other pollinators?
LM/DK: First, it is the best place for pollinator education. We rely on our pollinators now more than ever. It is estimated that Ohio lost 40% of the honeybee population due to winter die off. Second, 23 out of the 24 garden areas at Fellows Riverside Gardens are pesticide-free and there is such a diversity of plant life — it is a safe haven for them. In the original hive, we have already found purple, white and yellow pollen.
MS: Inquiring minds want to know… when can we expect the first batch of honey from these bees?
LM/DK: It truly all depends on the weather. Honeybees need days of 50 degrees or higher to fly to collect pollen — the next ten days look great! The first batch should be ready by the end of July to the beginning of August.
MS: Any final thoughts?
LM/DK: We just want people to appreciate bees and understand their importance to our survival. If anyone sees a bee, please do not kill it, it is simply looking for a pollen source and may be sidetracked. If there is a swarm of bees in or around your home, please make sure that your exterminator knows to contact a beekeeper to collect the bees.
OUR OWN HONEY & BEESWAX CANDLES NOW ON SALE!: Fellows Riverside Gardens is selling honey and beeswax candles from our very own Family Garden! Our new bees will produce honey that should be ready by the end of the summer.
Family Garden Beeswax Candles are $5 each and burn for 5 hours. They are handmade by FRG staff! The wax for the candles comes from the capped honey frames. We melt the excess wax in a solar wax melter. After the wax is melted, the wax is then strained and filtered of all impurities. There are still some impurities from the bees that remain – you can see small black particles in the candles. After the wax has been strained, we heat the wax and pour it into a silicon candle mold. Some of the wax is kept and we use it to put starter wax foundation on the frames. This helps the bees at the beginning of the new season.The strained part from the solar wax melter is put in our compost bin and then added back to the Family Garden after it has broken down.
Family Garden Local Honey is $15 for 12 oz., $12 for 8 oz., and $3 for 2 oz. Both the candles and honey make great basket fillers and are truly handmade Youngstown originals! All items available for purchase at the Information Desk at Fellows Riverside Gardens, Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Supplies are limited! Call 330.740.7116 for information. All proceeds from the sale of these items benefit the Family Garden at Fellows Riverside Gardens!