When I first met Kyle Gati, he was a colleague of my husband and I thought “just another designer friend.” It’s not a put-down at all, but I meet so many of Jason’s friends and they are (almost) all designers. He did have these interesting sideburns that were unique. Over the years, I’d hear interesting comments about Kyle: Kyle has a plot in a community garden. Kyle is raising bees. Kyle is going on a yoga and surfing retreat… whoa! What?!? Yoga is not where my husband’s and my worlds intersect (which actually works just fine for us), and when I heard this, I just thought, hmmmm… “maybe Kyle isn’t just another designer friend?”
So when the idea of ILLUMINE started to happen for me, Kyle was one of the first people I asked to write and contribute. Here’s his first article posted 11/2013, you may have also seen his ad in our premier issue, and here are a few FAQs he gets about his urban beekeeping on his rooftop in West Town. I hope you enjoy meeting Kyle, maybe try his delicious honey, or homemade lip balm (more products to come), or you might be next to his yoga mat and think, “just another yoga student” but you’d be wrong!!
Q&A with Chicago Beekeeper Kyle Gati
How did you get into beekeeping?
I’ve always been sort fascinated by bees and by nature in general, but I never thought one could keep bees in an urban city like Chicago. In 2011, I stumbled across a series of articles and blogs about rooftop beekeeping. From there I found a weekend class on beekeeping through the Chicago Honey Co-op (chicagohoneycoop.com/classes). I bought a package of bees and have been keeping them ever since.
Where do you keep your bees?
I have 2 hives on my rooftop in Noble Square and 2 hives at a nearby community garden.
How often do you get stung?
Honeybees are not aggressive. They’ll typically only sting you if you get in their way or threaten the colony. I’m usually well prepared in my suit with smoker in hand when entering the hives. I’m happy to say I made it through the 2013 season without getting stung once.
Where do you get bees?
Honeybees are most commonly sold in 3 pound packages. I picked up mine from a farm in Wisconsin who received them from California in early Spring. You can also catch a swarm (for free!) in the wild during swarm season from May – June.
How much honey do you get? Do you sell it?
That depends on a number of factors including weather, proximity to flowering plants/trees, genetics of a colony, and more. An established hive can produce anywhere from 30-90 lbs of excess honey in a season. I usually sell out pretty quickly after harvest but you can track its availability by liking my page on Facebook at facebook.com/noblehoneychi.
I want to learn more. Where can I find more information?
You can learn about my personal experiences beekeeping through my blog www.thehivelife.com. I’ve also found countless useful videos on YouTube. If you want the full experience, contact me about joining me on a hive inspection sometime. For more information about becoming a beekeeper, get in touch with local Chicagoland beekeepers through the Google Group “WindyCityBees”. We meet up monthly to discuss our hives.