Honeybees in the Highlands
Urban Apiculturist Keeps Lowell Abuzz with Bees
Kate Hemenway began urban beekeeping six years ago. She had been reading about the decrease in bee populations due to a still unknown cause, and then saw an ad for a beekeeping club in a local newspaper.
The Lowell resident is now a member of the Middlesex County Beekeepers’ Association, a large group that welcomes new members who are new to beekeeping. Centered in Carlisle, the group meets monthly, even in winter, and schedules outdoor events throughout the region during the summer.
Every year, Hemenway buys a queen and worker bees from Rick Reault in Tyngsborough. This year, a queen and 3,500 bees cost her about $130. They arrive in the spring, shipped in shoebox-size wooden crates. The minimal cost of maintaining the hive is mitigated by the rent bees pay in the form of honey. The amount of honey varies from year to year based on shade and weather, and the taste and quality fluctuates with the seasons.
Hemenway’s Italian honeybees (apis mellifera ligustica) are gentle and industrious. She has been stung only three times, all due to her own “stupidity,” she notes with a laugh. When mvm visited, the bees ignored us. Hemenway says she spends only an hour a week tending to the bees during the summer.
The hive is kept in her backyard, alongside a tidy garden. She says she is lucky because the property has three helpful characteristics: a high fence, open space to the southeast (the direction bees fly), and, most importantly, kind neighbors. In return for those neighbors’ welcoming attitude, the apian residents do gardening of their own and keep area flowers healthy and thriving.
For more information, visit:
Middlesex County Beekeepers’ Association
Rick Reault and New England Beekeeping Supplies, Inc.