Mckay Opeifa in all white beekeeping uniform, kneeling behind white beekeeping box with "Publik" label. Opeifa is also holding a tray filled with a swam of bees.

Urban Beekeeping: The Collaborative Practice That Benefits All


If you’ve noticed bees around Salt Lake City, they may belong to one of McKay Opeifa’s hives. An entomologist and soon-to-be Certified Master Beekeeper, Opeifa has worked with many Salt Lake City restaurants and businesses, such as Publik Kitchen and cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, to care for their local hives while pursuing her passion for beekeeping.

Mckay Opeifa's hands reaching for beetray labeled with "Publik" of Publik Kitchen
Local restaurants interested in starting their own hives look to Opeifa for her expertise. Photo: Ashley Christenson

 “To be able to lend a helping hand to the community while educating people about bees—I’m living the dream.”

Before relocating to Salt Lake City, Opeifa lived on a small farm, tending to her own beehives. Unfortunately, leaving her place in the country meant leaving her hives behind. But moving into a city wasn’t the end of her beekeeping journey. Instead, Opeifa sought innovative ways to continue her passion for beekeeping. She reached out to local restaurants interested in starting their own hives and offered to support them with her expert knowledge from decade of beekeeping experience. Throughout the process, Opeifa has grown her business, working closely with local restaurants such as The Rose Establishment, Arlo and Table X. “All of the honey that these hives produce goes back to the business for them to use in their own recipes and products,” says Opeifa.

“Beekeeping changed my life. It has taught me to slow down, to be more present and to feel more grateful.”

Opeifa takes a personalized approach with each business, providing as much education and training as each employee desires to learn. “To be able to lend a helping hand to the community while educating people about bees—I’m living the dream,” says Opeifa.

Some companies have used the beehives as team-building opportunities, dressing their employees in beekeeper suits to get a closer look at the hives while reflecting on the similarities their team might have with the intricate ecosystems. Company gardens also provide a serene retreat for employees during their work days, fostering a reprieve to nature, which comes with its own mental health benefits. “Beekeeping changed my life. It has taught me to slow down, to be more present and to feel more grateful,” says Opeifa. She shares that when she rushes through her beekeeping duties, the bees will often become agitated and aggressive. On the contrary, if she takes a moment to slow down and breathe, allowing herself to take her time while completing her tasks, the bees will calm right down. “You can see it in real-time,” she says.

Opeifa emphasizes the positive environmental impact of urban beekeeping. Photo: Ashley Christenson. 

There are also numerous environmental benefits to urban beekeeping, such as fostering the pollination of local flora, supporting urban agriculture and generally maintaining a healthy ecosystem. If you’re considering beekeeping, explore Opeifa’s online beginner beekeeping course which guides you through a full year of beekeeping, from preparation to maintenance and even honey harvesting in a sustainable manner.

“When I say ‘save the bees,’ I don’t just mean honeybees,” says Opeifa. “There are about 20,000 different species of bees.” This means that bringing new pollinators to an area can tip the balance of an ecosystem. Opeifa tries to be mindful of where she places her hives and teaches her students that saving the bees does not always require owning your own hive—it can also mean planting flowers in your backyard or windowsill for pollinators to enjoy, preferably local, indigenous plants. She also recommends avoiding insecticides and pesticides. “Generally, bees from urban regions produce a purer and healthier honey because there are fewer chemicals in the plants and gardens within a city,” says Opeifa.

Opeifa values the health and quality of her honey and enjoys trying different kinds of honey from around the world. She has even created a unique honey-tasting experience for others to enjoy, walking guests through the taste-testing while teaching them about the vitality of bees for the environment.

If you’re interested in her honey taste-testing experience, you can learn more about Opeifa, her courses and her community presence by visiting her website or her Instagram @mckayjo.

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Review: Bottle & Bee Artisan Syrups
Appreciating The Outdoors One Brew At A Time