ABC Bees is bringing Kirk Anderson, a.k.a Kirkobeeo, to Alberta in March 2012! With keynote speaking engagements in the works for Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton, you will be able to hear whats happening in urban beekeeping from the metropolis of Los Angeles! Kirk is the founder of Backwards Beekeepers (arguably one of the largest communities of urban beekeepers in North America) and a passionate and innovative caretaker of honeybees!
Kirkobeeo started beekeeping in 1970 in Utah. He ordered his first package of bees from the Montgomery Ward catalogue. Since then, he’s had beehives intermittently, but he always “loved those bugs!”
In 1999, Kirk got the bee fever again. Since he now lived in Los Angeles in an apartment with no yard, he had to find a spot for a beehive. He located a nearby community garden and put a beehive in it. He discovered that beekeeping had gotten complicated since he last had beehives. It was expected that all sorts of chemicals and medications had to be put in beehives to handle mites and such. He disagreed with this idea. He knew it was much better to let the bees be bees. He researched beekeeping and found the writings of Charles Martin Simon, who talked about beekeeping backwards and small cell honeycombs. He also found Michael Bush and Dee Lusby, who practiced this same sort of beekeeping. He began handling his hives using these concepts. He had a couple of hives in the community garden, but he needed more room so he could start more hives. He borrowed a bright idea, put up a website and posted that he needed people to “sponsor a beehive” in their backyard. To his surprise, not only did he get sponsors, he also got people who said, “We don’t want to sponsor a hive, we want to become beekeepers!”
He began teaching others small cell, backwards beekeeping. These new beekeepers formed the group Backwards Beekeepers and started a Backwards Beekeepers Yahoo! group (which now has 650 members). Backwards Beekeepers in the LA area now number in the hundreds. Beekeepers in other parts of the country are also becoming Backwards Beekeepers. Currently, Kirk mentors new beekeepers, tends his 25 beehives and sells chemical-free honey whenever his bees supply it.
We’re a group of organic, treatment-free beekeepers in Los Angeles, with branches now forming in other cities.
We’re “Backwards” because we rely on observation and natural practices to keep our bees thriving rather than pesticides, chemicals, or treatments of any kind.
We’re continually growing as more and more people discover the enjoyment and worth of encouraging our native feral bee population. Our goal is to do right by the bees so that the bees can return the favour.
Once upon a time, back in 2008, we (Amy & Russell) were curious about becoming beekeepers. We found Kirk online and scheduled a meeting. It was love at first sight—we connected to his philosophy about letting the bees do their thing…and we were smitten by his sense of humour. We formed the Backwards Beekeepers that day and the 3 of us have been joined by thousands of like-minded people since. As a club and a community, we advocate for changes in legislation around bees in urban areas, organize swarm captures and removals, and educational events and fundraisers for local beekeeping! We now have hundreds of members and receive over 3,000 swarm calls a year here in LA! We are pretty well organized and work really well as a large team, each member doing their part!
We also offer a wide arange of DIY videos on beekeeping! These are great representations of many different scenarios you will see while beekeeping in an URBAN SPACE!
We have grown outside our LA boarders, with a branch in Brooklyn NY organized by Meg Paska, Tim O`Neal and Sam Comfort! We are really excited to share our vision with other communities outside of Los Angeles and get urban beekeeping communities working together to bring awareness of ethical honeybee management practices!