It’s been an interesting past few months for the Blue KC beehive, with a number of ups and downs. After the initial success of Kansas City’s first corporate-sponsored urban beekeeping effort, the hive collapsed last winter. Unfortunately, colony collapse disorder is occurring increasingly often, in places around the globe, and no one is sure why bees are leaving their hives on such a large scale.
While this loss was upsetting, Blue KC Executive Chef Kyle Williams and his team did not give up on their urban beekeeping mission, and with the help of Clayton Lee, Chef Kyle’s mentor and president of the Missouri Bee Keepers Association, they were able to install a new queen and several thousand accompanying worker bees to rebuild the hive. Just this past May, Chef Kyle made an incredible discovery – another new hive had taken up residence in a tree not too far from the existing Blue KC one.
“Every year, bees actually double in size,” Chef Kyle explained. “The old queen leaves the original hive, and they raise a new queen in the old hive. That’s what beehives do every year.” The reason for the unexpected new hive just came down to the bee colony naturally growing: “The queen had left the first hive in the bee box, and went to a surrounding tree with about half the worker bees,” Chef Kyle added.
He and his team quickly ordered another bee box, captured the queen bee from the tree and managed to re-home all the worker bees that followed her. He’s happy to report that both hives are doing well and are growing at a break-neck pace.
So, of course, the next question on everyone’s mind – when can the Blue KC honey be harvested? According to Chef Kyle, he lets the bees decide when it’s time to enjoy the sweet stuff.
“Instead of dictating when we think it’s ready, we’re waiting for the bees to tell us when it’s ready,” he said. But he did hint that there are several quarts in the first bee box that are likely ready to be harvested within the next couple of weeks.
However, the process of establishing a functioning hive takes time, and with the colder months approaching, honey must be left in the hive for the bees to live off of throughout the winter. So, Blue KC honey fans will have to wait a bit longer to try the product from the current hive. Chef Kyle assured us, however, that the honey would be more than worth the wait.
“Spring honey from local wildflowers, Linden trees and locust trees is by far some of the best – really floral, light, flavorful, and delicious,” he said.
We’ll take his word for it!
Follow our monthly series, where we’ll go into more detail about the new hives, the journey from hive to table and share recipes featuring fresh honey.