Oro-Medonte’s Ruth Gowan says there should be a buzz about bees, especially today, Aug. 19, World Honeybee Day.
The Abell Pest Control's Barrie service manager spends her working life helping homeowners control pests – but on her off-time, she works with bees and she credits them for already giving her an incredible garden harvest.
“The honey bee is responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat,” she said.
“We have a hobby farm and this spring, I started a beehive. It’s been fascinating,” she said, as she’s gotten to see the bees working in her garden. She enjoys hearing about neighbours who tell her they’ve seen her bees hard at work in their gardens.
“They go for miles. One of the fun things about them is I’ll be visiting a neighbour around the corner (which isn’t as close as it would be in Barrie) and she’ll say ‘I saw your bees today’. Her pear tree has never had so many pears – and I think it’s thanks to the bees.”
Gowan’s apple tree is full of fruit, just as her garden continues to produce plenty of zucchinis and cucumbers, so many that she’s challenged to find ways to cook them without boring her family.
As plentiful as the harvest is, so too are the number of bees. From the small starter hive that included four frames, a brood and a queen, her apiary has kept expanding.
“When a colony gets too big, they will produce another queen and a swarm will form,” she said, and they will search for new living quarters.
That’s has Gowan planning ahead, as she looks to buy a second beehouse.
“Bees are breeding. They just don’t stop. They’re constantly reproducing,” she said, adding since May, she has had to expand her hive’s hardware and next year, she may add a second wooden beehouse for her growing population.
It’s at that point she may encounter bees at work, at Abell Pest Control. Bees that have had to leave the hive with another queen may settle in someone’s home.
And as they make honey, they buzz to provide air conditioning for the hive and keep the honey from melting. Their honey, however, could also attract other insects, some pesky ones and that’s what prompts the homeowner to call a company like Abell.
“If they start to nest in a person’s house, you can imagine the mess. Bees are constantly buzzing to keep the honey at a constant temperature. If it’s in the wall of your house, it’d start to melt and become a sticky mess.”
Abell Pest Control, however, is working on creating a beekeeper directory, so customers who want bees to leave their home can be relocated. Beekeepers can register at Abellsavesbees.com and homeowners can find a helpful apiarist there, should they need help
“It’s beneficial to the beekeeper to have more bees,” Gowan said, and the company is also supporting a course for new beekeepers at the University of Guelph, as well as supporting the university’s Honey Bee Research Centre with a $25,000 donation over the next five years.
Gowan plans to investigate those this winter, while her bees are huddled together keeping warm.
“I’ll put insulation and protect (the hive) from the cold. They’ll clump together and survive,” she said.
“It’s amazing I started with four frames (for bees to live in). Now there’s 16 and all that honey.”