Backyard Beekeeping in Pittsburgh
You may have known that Pittsburgh has an up and coming chicken-keeping population… but did you know that there are Pittsburghers who also keep bees in their backyards?
There is a thriving urban beekeeping community in Pittsburgh, represented by Burgh Bees, a non-profit dedicated to promoting urban beekeeping in the Pittsburgh area. Burgh Bees provides classes and seminars, monthly “meet-ups” where urban beekeepers can get together, and events at their community apiary in Homewood.
The community apiary is one of the first of its kind – a place where Burgh Bees rents out spaces so both new and experienced beekeepers can keep hives in the city without having to go through the lengthy and expensive permitting process. Burgh Bees also uses the community apiary to teach “apprentice” beekeepers, who apply for the chance to keep hives there for a year.
This community apiary was created to address a problem many aspiring beekeepers in Pittsburgh are encountering. Like keeping backyard chickens, many beekeepers come up against regulatory issues when trying to get permission to have one or two hives. It costs up to $300 just to request a permit, with no guarantee that it will be granted. Also, many beekeepers have trouble convincing their neighbors that urban beehives are perfectly safe. Burgh Bees is hoping to open more community apiaries around the city in the near future.
Like groups such as Pittsburgh Pro-Poultry People and Grow Pittsburgh, Burgh Bees is working to change Pittsburgh’s urban agriculture zoning laws to help beginning beekeepers. Change is happening slowly, but in the meantime there is still plenty you can do to learn about bees and beekeeping in the Pittsburgh area!
This weekend, attend an Open Apiary Day at the Homewood Community Apiary (6933 Susquehanna Street). From 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, the community apiary will be open to the public. Anyone who is interested can come to talk to a beekeeper and see inside a hive. There is a $10 suggested donation. RSVP by emailing Lynnetta Miller at LynnettaM@burghbees.com by Friday, June 28… and don’t forget to wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, and closed-toed shoes!
Another event hosted by Burgh Bees this weekend is a hands-on honey extraction workshop. Also on Sunday, June 30, you can learn to extract honey from a hive by attending at Cannon Coffee (802 Brookline Blvd) from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost of the class is $20 – RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in attending one of the beekeeping classes through Burgh Bees and Penn State Extension, email Burgh Bees at email@example.com or keep an eye on their website fto find out about upcoming classes.