The Valley Hive
Honeybees are vital for the health of our planet. Bees provide one-third of all the food that we eat. However, bees are in serious distress. That's where urban beekeeping comes in.
The Valley Hive, owned by Danny Finkelstein and Keith Roberts, is chock full of knowledge about everything bee. If you have ever been interested in this important animal, this is where you should start. Located in Chatsworth, this property is also home to the Topanga Nursery, a plant oasis, shaded by hundred-year-old pepper trees.
Bees are in trouble. There's a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder that scientists – and beekeepers – are struggling to understand. But why are bees so important?
"Bees are a part of the whole food chain," says Danny. "If there are no bees there are no plants, if there are no plants there are no animals, and if there are no animals there are no humans."
The Valley Hive is the preeminent teaching space for urban beekeeping. Legislation passed in 2015 allowing homeowners to have their own beehives and the Valley Hive is the first step to learn how to take care of them. They offer both private training and group classes. Beekeeping 101 Classes are a great way to educate yourself. Come to The Valley Hive and they will take you through a beekeeping season.
"There is a big upswell in people wanting to learn how to keep bees and it's a wonderful thing," says Danny. "I think it goes hand in hand with the farm to table trend – people like growing their own gardens, fruit trees, and now their own honey."
The Valley Hive has home bee servicing. Many people want to keep bees in their yard but do not have the time to keep up the maintenance needed. Bee servicing is just like having a gardener – except for bees! "They are helping the bees and their beautiful lush gardens," says Danny. "And at the end of the season, we harvest honey for them from their backyard."
Get a taste of the life of a beekeeper with The Valley Hive Beekeeping Experience! This two-hour workshop is designed to provide an extensive – and fun – introduction to the craft of beekeeping.
You start off with an introduction to the bees and then move into the onsite shop where you can see a bee colony up close through an ultra-safe glass enclosure.
Then comes the real entertainment. You'll put on protective gear and go inside the Apiary with one of The Valley Hive's beekeepers. You will get to hold frames – removable blades of honeycomb, look for the Queen, and inspect a hive. Take pictures! The class concludes with a honey tasting or extraction.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, there is, of course, plenty of honey offered at The Valley Hive. Flavors depend on the time of year and there are quite a few varieties. "Right now we have orange blossom honey, local sage honey, wildflower honey, buckwheat honey, and avocado honey," says Danny. "Those varieties are because of the types of flowers the bees were feeding on. If we put them in an avocado orchard they make dark, molasses-rich tasting honey, and when they are in orange blossom it's lighter."
There are also a lot of items for sale that are not honey. The Valley Hive sells all of the beekeeping supplies that anyone could ever need. There are also "gifts from the hive" which are candles, lotion, and lip balm made with beeswax and honey. There are also cute bee-related items, such as aprons, towels, and shirts. Two products that are up and coming are Royal Jelly and Propolis. Royal Jelly is a substance bees feed to baby larvae as well as to the Queen. It is great for the skin. Propolis is the substance that seals the bee's hives to keep them safe from predators. It is showing promise to combat major diseases – so keep your ears peeled!
How can you help the bees? It's easy. Simply plant bee-friendly flowers in your yard. As well, if you use pesticides like weed killer, always spray in the evening. Bees don't fly at night and the power of those poisons diminishes over time. In that way, you can keep your garden pretty while also protecting the bees who start foraging for flowers in the morning.
The Valley Hive is located at 10538 Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Chatsworth. For more information log onto www.thevalleyhive.com