On this episode of Yinzer Backstage Pass, I headed to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden for my first visit.

Located in Oakdale, the garden opened to the public in 2016 — though it had been in the works since 1988 and I was excited to finally check it out. First up, I suited up in a thick, white canvas shirt and sunhat-like contraption covered in netting. No, this wasn’t any normal visit to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. I was getting ready to meet the bees at their apiary.

Beekeeper Joe Zgurzynski let me tag along as he harvested the apiary’s spring honey and treated the hives for mites. I was expecting the experience to be more, well, swarmy, but the bees were actually relaxed during the process. Once the bees had cleared out of the top boxes, Joe loaded the honey-filled frames into a cart to take them back for processing. That same honey would be on sale at the botanic garden’s gift shop within a week.

After taking off all that beekeeping gear, I took a stroll around the garden with Executive Director Keith Kaiser. As he showed me through the European Woodland, Lotus Pond and Dogwood Meadow, it became clear that maintaining and expanding the garden is only half of his job. Until the 1970s, this area was an active mine site and because of that, the environment has been severely degraded. For every meadow or pond they want to put in, they first have to take out a pile of leftover mine debris or divert acid mine drainage. Despite the challenges of gardening in a former mine, they’ve got lots of plans for the future and I’m excited to make a return visit.

To plan your own visit to the gardens, you can head to their website.

If you want more Yinzer Backstage Pass, check out last week’s episode—we got a tour of Allegheny County’s sign shop where they still print all the county’s stop signs by hand.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.