On Tuesday night, under cover of darkness we welcomed two colonies of bees to our lovely co-op. They were carefully escorted from Richmond where they were born, bred and waiting on a new home to continue doing the important work that bees do. Julia Common, Hives for Humanity founder and master beekeeper kept them safe on their journey to our rooftop garden amidst the urban landscape of the Olympic Village in False Creek.
Julia is so passionate about this project to bring bees close to where people live and garden that her company, Hives for Humanity, funded half the cost. Legacy Liquor Store, which happens to be one of my favourite go tos for fabulous advice on all things wine in the Village, funded the other half. Thank you so much for your generosity! We look forward to splitting the honey harvest with you!
The 50,000 bees we welcomed are honey bees, of which there are only six species. This particular species of bee from New Zealand has been domesticated as much as bees can be. I’m hoping they bring to us a laid back attitude that Kiwis are known for. We’ve been assured that they are a docile bunch which suits us perfectly as for the most part we are a calm, peaceful neighbourhood, aside from the dozens of children whose joyful sounds can’t help but be heard when you wander by.
Bees get a Bad Rap
Bees often get a bad rap as they are often mistaken for wasps. In fact, wasps are predatory creatures, feeding their young other insects while honey bees eat, well honey. They only sting if they have to which is sad because when they do, it’s a lethal decision for them. Their stingers get ripped from their little stripe-y bodies and well that’s it.
Opening of the Hives
Three days after our bees were set in their new home, Julia came by to see how they were doing. She was more than thrilled to see that the bees loves their new home, apparent by how much ‘work’ they had already done building the hives. The queens were very content too and it won’t be long before we’ve got honey running spare. The kids in the co-op painted extra tiers for the hives that could be put on once the bees needed more room. We were actually able to put one new tier on already!
Beekeeping Teaches Respect
The most amazing thing to me was how close we could actually stand to the hives. It’s important to be calm and not touch or disturb the hives as the bees are sensitive to vibration. According to master beekeeper Julia, they are able to recognize faces and if someone is there to do harm or is friendly. I guess this is why when Julia attends to the bees she does so without smoke or gloves.
The children who stood by and watched were mesmerized. I can tell that the experience of keeping bees in our communal garden where we are growing food for all our members to eat is going to be a positive one. It’s so important that kids learn respect for nature and what its creatures do to keep the balance and the environment fruitful.
Last year I maintained a community garden plot in the Village. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of beneficial insects, including bees. Although I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination, I knew that the lack of bees to aid pollination was a big problem. And of course it’s all over the news. So when I heard that we would be getting beehives it felt like the best thing we could do to support our village and the bigger picture which is aid in keeping our environment sustainable and giving back. Keeping bees also falls directly in line with what our co-op and the City of Vancouver’s 2020 Greenest City Action Plan.
There is so much I haven’t said or even know about these wonderful busy creatures. Stay tuned as we learn to live along side our honey bees and watch our sustainable community grow.
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