The Center for Urban Water Conservation, a collaborative demonstration orchard between University of Nevada, Reno Extension and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is creating a beekeeping program for the local community.
M.L. Robinson, an assistant professor and horticulture specialist with Extension, is overseeing the program and developing educational materials and resources. Although COVID-19 restrictions have delayed the full opening of the program, volunteers have been tending to the hives, which range from five to eight depending on time of year and environmental issues.
Robinson and volunteers were able to harvest around six dozen pint-size containers of honey over the last couple of weeks. Harvesting the honey occurs once or twice a year based on the available flower production, and on average 50 pounds of honey can be collected at once.
The ultimate goal, once programs are allowed to continue in-person education, is to have training classes for anyone in the community interested in beekeeping. The program will teach participants the entire process of beekeeping, including setting up the hives, upkeep of the hives and bees, and harvesting. The Center has already used these hives to train veterinarians and assistants on working with bees, and volunteers are excited to extend that knowledge to the local community.
“We want to make sure that those interested in beekeeping have the opportunity to learn this skill. Setting up personal, individual hives can be difficult,” Robinson said. “Having this program available will be a great learning opportunity, and it’s always exciting to have fresh local honey on hand as well.”
Robinson and volunteers are also putting together online educational presentations on beekeeping as part of the project. With pollinator populations in decline and the demand for local products such as honey increasing, they hope to boost the number of people interested in beekeeping in southern Nevada. The honey being produced at the Center is for sale, but quantities are limited. (For more information, email the Center.)
The purpose of the demonstration orchard at the Center is to conduct research and provide information on water conservation in the Mojave Desert. The orchard houses over 550 fruit trees and 250 grape vines, vegetables and other crops. It is maintained with help from Extension’s Master Gardeners and community volunteers. The bees have been pollinating the fruit trees and vineyard, so the impact of this pollination is also being monitored.