Beekeeping: Not just for rural areas anymore

Classes for beekeeping hit Madison
Beekeeping: Not just for rural areas anymore

Even though plenty of bees are buzzing around his backyard, Nathan Clarke said that’s not the reality around the country.

“In my opinion, it’s how we do large-scale agriculture in this country,” Clarke said. “It’s the pesticides, it’s the imports. It’s all of these things together that are causing this situation.”

Clarke said his reason for building the boxes and starting his beekeeping hobby was all for the honey. He used to be a home brewer and wanted to add homemade honey to his meads and ales.

Clarke said the city is better than more rural areas to turn out some unique tastes since there are the variety of flowers and plants to pollinate is more plentiful around Madison.

“These flavors come from the variety of the food the bees have, and the bees are generally happier and healthier because of it,” Clarke said.

Now, Clarke takes care of his hives full time under the company name Mad Urban Bees, LLC. When an Austin-based honey producer asked Clarke to teach a beekeeping class in Wisconsin, he jumped on the opportunity.

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The classes are two-and-a-half hours long and cover the fundamentals of beekeeping. In the last part of the class, participants get to suit up and get personal contact with the hives.

Clarke said his “students” are typically trying to start their own honey production, wanting to pollinate their personal gardens, or looking to help save the honey bee population.

“Bees and other native pollinators are a key part of not only our environment,” Clarke said, “but also our entire agricultural system.”

Whether or not Clarke’s classes get more urban beekeepers on the Madison map, he wants people to at least learn about the animals and what kind of impact they have on food supplies and farming.

“I hope they get more appreciation for what backyard beekeeping can be. I hope they learn that, and even if they don’t decide to pursue beekeeping themselves, I just hope they overall have a good time and get a really neat experience out of it,” Clarke said.

For more information on Mad Urban Bees, LLC, and Clarke’s classes, visit his web site. The class schedule runs through October.

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