Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Magevney House

Keeping honey bee colonies in urban areas presents certain challenges not faced in rural areas. Beekeepers must be even more careful in protecting people and pets when bees are kept in public spaces within cities. We should make considerations to avoid contacts between bees and humans as much as possible. Bee hives need to be placed so that the bees won’t regularly fly through pathways or areas used by people. Since honey bees take in large amounts of water, they can be expected to frequent any water source in a nearby sunny area. A water supply should be maintained near the bee hives to prevent encounters with people at swimming pools or fountains. Measures should be taken to reduce swarming, and colonies should be monitored for gentleness. Excessively defensive colonies should be re-queened. Care should be taken to avoid bee encounters with young children or the elderly. If public areas hold outdoor social or recreational events, the open areas may prove unsuitable for bee hives.

Kjeld Petersen maintains the bee hives at the Magevney House in downtown Memphis. The bee hives are part of the 1850 kitchen garden. Along with food for the family, the garden supplied medicinal, dye, aromatic, and pollinator plants. Home gardens were of great importance for everyday life. I assisted Kjeld temporarily move a bee hive to allow for maintenance in the garden. Access to bee hives in public spaces should be carefully planned to allow for the beekeeper to work in the bee hives and provide for lawn, garden, and building space maintenance. Kjeld and I moved the bees before dawn. As we finished the move, the sun illuminated St. Peter’s Catholic Church above the Magevney House. Catholic services were held in the Magevney House in the 1830s. The owner, Eugene Magevney, a pioneer teacher and civic leader, immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1828. He died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1875. Honey bees help preserve the nature of these historic gardens.