CEDAR RAPIDS – You can’t yet (legally) keep a bee hive in your backyard in Cedar Rapids, but you can take a class to learn how to be a beekeeper.
Iowa has seen an uptick in beekeeping classes that are offered throughout the state, with a record 27 courses that will be held in the coming year.
That compares to about 20 locations over the past year, said State Apiarist Andrew Joseph.
“Our Iowa Honey Producers Association is responding to the growing interest in beginner beekeeping by hosting these courses largely through the volunteer efforts of its membership,” he said.
Cedar Rapids had considered allowing beekeeping in urban areas (it is allowed in agricultural zones) earlier this year, but nothing came of the issue.
Seth Gunnerson, planner in the city’s Community Development Department, said Cedar Rapids is looking at beekeeping as part of its comprehensive zoning code update.
“We are in the final stages of evaluating consultants and expect to have Council approval to begin the update in January, so it’s something that will be beginning very soon,” he wrote in an email.
Joseph noted that a new website addresses ordinances in dozens of Iowa towns. The undertaking, and future maintenance of the site, is possible through the support of the Iowa Honey Producers Association and a Specialty Crops Block Grant. Find information at: www.beelaws.org
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today recognized the record number of beekeeping courses.
“We continue to see interest grow in bee keeping, both among hobbyist who might just have a hive or two and commercial producers who can have 1,000s of hives,” he said in a press release. “These courses provide an excellent opportunity for new beekeepers or those who are interested in getting started to learn from experienced Iowa beekeepers who understand our seasons and environment how to successfully raise bees.”
There are currently about 4,500 beekeepers in Iowa that manage more than 45,000 colonies of honey bees. These honey bees produce about 4 million pounds of honey annually, valued at over $8 million. Honey bees are also responsible for the pollination of many Iowa crops. Field and horticultural crops, home gardens and plants eaten by wildlife are dependent on bee pollination for the production of their fruits, nuts and seeds. The economic value of honey bees as crop pollinators in Iowa has been estimated at $92 million annually.
Early enrollment for many of these courses is important so courses can meet minimum enrollment numbers. Fees will vary by location. For more information, please refer to the IHPA website and online monthly newsletter at www.abuzzaboutbees.com or contact Andrew Joseph, State Apiarist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, at (515) 725-1481 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A Cedar Rapids beekeeping course is included in this year’s classes through the Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd SE.
Members are $60 and nonmembers, $90.
The class will be 7-9 pm Jan. 15, with eight sessions throughout the year. Find more at the
Indian Creek Nature Center or contact Julie Walters: 319-362-0664 or email@example.com