Bees benefit Big Easy

If beekeeping in New Orleans seems unbeelievable, think again.

Southbound Gardens will be hosting an urban beekeeping workshop from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sunday at its location on South Robertson Street. Jordan Bantuelle, co-owner of Southbound Gardens, indicated that the workshop will be dealing primarily with honeybees.

Recently, a different type of bee, the rusty-patched bumblebee, was put on the endangered species list by the United States. While these bees should not be confused with honeybees, methods for preservation of these two insects are similar.

Southbound Gardens works on urban farming and aims to teach others how to grow vegetables, maintain plant health and understand pests and fertilization, which includes teaching and implementing permaculture, methods of ecological design which can help to restore ecosystems.

Bantuelle’s interest in beekeeping stems from the fact that many of his crops require pollination from bees. Without the bees to pollinate fruits like squash, cucumbers, melons and peppers, Bantuelle would have to pollinate the crops by hand, a task that takes a good deal of work.

“A great many of the crops that we like to eat must be pollinated by bees,” Bantuelle said.

Southbound Gardens beekeeper Caryn Hassell will be the main instructor for the workshop. This is Southbound Gardens’ second beekeeping workshop, an activity which they hope to expand in the future.

“We did one last month, we’re doing one this month, we’ll probably do one in February,” Hassell said. “. . . Eventually, we also hope to offer more specific and more in depth for different types of things that come up when you already have bees.”

Bees are so effective in urban environments because of their ability to travel within a few miles of their hive, which allows them to pollinate many kinds of plants.

“We’re doing these workshops because having bees is a wonderful thing for a city and a backyard and a community,” Hassell said. “I really want to encourage people to come out and get more information if they are not familiar because it’s easier and way more rewarding to have bees than I think most people realize.”

This specific workshop is targeted toward people who are new to the uncommon art of beekeeping. Hassell will discuss the roles of bees, basic bee biology, how the hive works and what a person needs to get started beekeeping.

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