CBK Update: March 2014

This week we took off our sweaters, rolled up our sleeves and finally took the plunge in the depths of each of our city hives. We force ourselves to be patient each spring season, and wait until we are warm ourselves, before cracking open our overwintered colonies; not an easy wait when the bees give us so much joy and are such a beautiful meditation. In the meantime we’ve been busy working with folks in the community to build equipment and get our apiaries ready for the spring season.

Our rewards upon our first inspections: bubbling hives, fresh frames of healthy brood, dancing bees, pollen laden workers, laying queens, new comb already filling with fresh nectar and pollen, and then that incredible aroma of the hive and the honey bee which enters the very soul. We come away with fingers sticky with propolis, an aroma of smoke in our pores, and an inner calm that we have all missed over the winter.

A healthy hive brings such joy to everyone who witnesses it; equally an unhealthy hive is a sadness to behold: especially when beekeeper error is the cause. In our case we lost 8 out of 75 hives over the winter, all from beekeeper error, risking letting a colony go into winter a little weak.

We have learned a lot, as ever, with keeping the bees; and, as ever, the lessons are about our selves and our communities as well as about the bees. Beekeeping and all of the complexities of managing a honeybee hive become so simple when you take a step back: stress. Stressed bees are vulnerable to disease. Just like people!

So we strive to keep our bees calm, healthy, safe and well fed, and to do the same for the community we work with in the DTES. Incredibly, we find that it is the bees that give the people that feeling of well being, of calm and joy. As one of our DTES community beekeepers has said, the bees give you “a reason to lift your head.”

Dandelion flow is on – so if you are looking for a simple way to support pollinators, leave those dandelions growing and enjoy observing the many visits they’ll get from bees collecting nectar and pollen!

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