What’s the latest buzz on the newest local hobby? Beekeeping. Just ask Chuck Wood, co-owner of the newly opened Wood’s Beekeeping Supply and Academy in Lincoln. “It is the number one fad in this world right now – rooftop hives. It’s huge,” says Wood. A beekeeper since the 70’s and past president of the Rhode Island Beekeeper’s Association (RIBA), Wood’s passion is clear. “[Beekeeping] became the best thing I ever did.”
Right now, the life of a bee is a quiet one. “They don’t hibernate. They eat their honey and that’s how they get warm,” says Wood, noting that bees can handle the winter just fine if there’s enough food. “Right now, they are starting to have babies in their hive, even in this cold weather, and they’re using the honey up.” In the middle to the end of February, he may supplement his bees with granulated sugar because when the weather dips below 50 degrees, they can’t take syrup down. He’ll also feed the hive with a pollen substitute to encourage the growth of the baby bees.
It’s the perfect time to jump into the world of beekeeping. The RIBA provides beginner level instruction and sessions have just started. “We get packaged bees in for new beekeepers in April every year,” notes Wood. “Now is the time to start thinking of it. Time flies, so you do want to do it ahead.” Wood himself will lead advanced level courses and public demonstrations starting in April. He will also offer a hive tending service for a monthly fee, for those who would like the bees, but not, perhaps, the bee stings.
Woods says all you need is a little outdoor space, less than the size of a small table. “It’s incredible how many people have rooftop hives,” he says. From backyards to rooftops to small balconies, it seems bees can be kept almost anywhere. “And people who have hives in cities usually make more honey then we do out in the country, don’t know why,” says Woods, “And I’m even talking NYC. They do wonderful there. Way up on rooftops. Lots of restaurants have them up there so they can get the honey.” Even with one hive, Woods says you can get between 40 and 100 pounds of honey per season.
Intrigued? To find out more, contact RIBA at ribeekeeper.org or check out Wood’s Beekeeping Supply and Academy at woodsbees.com.