Friendly Bee Spaces and Being Heard

I had some alone time with my camera tonight.  Even though the night is so hot and dry I enjoyed exploring through my lens.  As I snapped pictures I loved looking at this garden box that has gone somewhat wild.  The grapevine is grasping onto anything it can find, the sage is putting out purple flowers, and the parsley has bolted and has tiny little flowers. It may be your first instinct to rip out the offending herb or lettuce that has stopped putting its energy into producing food and has moved onto flowering, but you may want to think again.   Last year I let my Kale go to seed, mostly due to my laziness, and the most beautiful yellow flowers emerged.  I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty they were and enjoyed looking at them from my kitchen window.  Every day bees would visit the kale, flying from blossom to blossom, collecting the pollen.  The bees never harassed us when we went outside, the simply went on with their work.  Another benefit to letting plant flower is you can collect seeds from the plant.  The kale growing in my garden this year is from seeds harvested from last year.  Since it isn’t a hybrid plant the Kale is doing wonderfully and is even more heat-resistant because only the most resilient plants survived last year.

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The parsley flowers aren’t as flashy as the kale, but the bees still enjoy them.  I was fascinated by this worker bee.  It was so determined to collect all the pollen it could.

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When I took up gardening I really began to understand how important bees are for the growth of our food and the health of our environment. I wish there were more of them around.  Last year I saw tomato blossoms shrivel up and die because they weren’t pollinated.  It can be very frustrating.  At one point I began pollinating by hand.  I know the hot weather was also a factor leading the blossoms to be dry, but it was rare to see bees around my plants.  I have planted some flowers in the garden to try to help this year, but what I would really like is a beehive of my own.  I know there can be fear surrounding bees, but I think if more people understood why we need bees they wouldn’t be so hesitant to welcome hives into their neighborhoods.  Currently in my area the only people who can have beehives are those zoned for agriculture.  My lot size is much too small to be considered eligible for that.

Recently a new invention came out, the flow hive!  Have you seen it?  As I watched videos of the golden honey coming out on tap, and the window allowing you to view your bees working I absolutely knew I wanted bees.  I decided to be bold and contact the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office to see if the zoning could change.  I got a few emails, but the last one was 2 months ago, even though they said they’d get back to me in a few days.  I am happy they responded, but I’m worried the issue may fizzle out, especially if I’m the only one who is reaching out on this issue.  The most recent email said:

Based on our previous experience with domestic fowl (backyard chickens), accommodating your request would require changes to the zoning and animal services ordinances.  In order to facilitate the needed changes, questions would need to be answered about the level of regulation (for example, how many hives can be on a residential lot, how close to property lines can they be, etc.).  When the domestic fowl ordinance was developed, a “committee” of sorts worked together over a period of several months to discuss and develop the ordinances.  The committee had representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Animal Services, the Health Department, and Planning who met on a regular basis to discuss their issues and concerns as the ordinances were drafted.  The fact that public interest in raising chickens in a residential area was very high at that time led the Mayor’s Office and the directors of the various agencies to agree on the initiation of the ordinance drafting process.  Because I could see an effort to allow beekeeping in residential zones going through a similar process, I had asked my director, Rolen Yoshinaga to find out whether we had that kind of support from the other directors and the Mayor’s Office.   I followed up with him this morning to see what he found out, and I have a feeling he hasn’t heard back yet.  I am hoping to hear something back within the next day or two.

I have decided it is time for me to reach out again.  I really should have much sooner, but life got in the way.  Seeing this little bee working so hard tonight brought the issue to the forefront of my mind again.  Do you want to help the bees and those who want to keep them?  I’d love for you to reach out to the mayor!  You can contact his office here.  Thank you in advance from this farm dreamer!