OUR WATERFRONT HONEY BEES... DELAYED BUT NOT DENIED! - THE BUZZ ON BEES WITH BEE BUTLER MICHAEL KING (MAY 2017)
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You are probably all wondering what exactly has been going on with our 2017 honey bee season and you would have good cause to ask that question because this year has been very challenging if you are a beekeeper. Let me explain.
This winter was one of our harshest in many years with snowfalls occurring in December, January, February and March locally and even now as I write this we have seen 25 cms of snow fall on grouse mountain this past weekend alone and the Coquihalla continues to experience WINTER driving conditions!
The bee populations throughout BC have been hit hard with northern BC seeing as much as 80% mortality in their hive populations and locally bee keepers have lost around 50% of their colonies.
Those colonies that did survive have not had their natural food supplies to kick start their spring activity as our gardens and farmlands and indigenous plantlife is approximately 4-6 weeks behind where it should be for this time of the year. Bee keepers have been forced to feed their colonies for longer than they normally would with artificial food supplies of sugar syrup, sugar fondant and pollen patties. This take time and of course financially it can hit an organic, small operation bee keeper quite hard in the pocketbook with all the supplies needed to keep their hives alive and well fed!
Our bees arrived at the beginning of May but have had a very hard time since with poor weather, rain and cloudy and cool conditions and we had to insulate our observation hive to prevent them from getting too cold and potentially dying due to the cold. The Queen appeared to have disappeared in our observation hive as we could not locate her in the colony and feared that she had died or disappeared from the hive mysteriously. However good news !! Today we saw her for the first time in a week, alive and well and perhaps, just perhaps the corner has been turned and our weather may now be finally beginning to take an upswing with warm sunny weather predicted starting this weekend.
This time last year we had begun our tours in April but so far we are still waiting to officially open our bee tour season again due to poor weather conditions and a lack of bee activity to be able to show our guests. We are hopeful that by next weekend we may finally be able to begin our tours again. Stay tuned.
In the meantime the next big challenge for beekeepers is that all those flowers that have yet to bloom may likely all start to do so within a small window of time over the next 3-4 weeks or so causing an explosion of pollen to be available to honey bees and local native bees like bumble bees and mason bees. For honey bees this means the potential for hive populations to explode and if the beekeeper is not on top of their game this can lead to a major increase in bee swarms as bee colonies quickly outgrow their hive space. We will be watching our bees carefully from here on in as we will need to ensure they have plenty of room to grow as they bring in food and the Queens start laying more and more eggs to match the demand out there in the world that exists in the pollinator corridor!
We are all at the mercy of mother nature and this year is a perfect example of how life must adapt to ever changing conditions in order to survive, but nature is resilient and will survive and over the next several weeks it will be very interesting to observe just how our flying insect friends cope with the changes brought their way.
Learn more about our bees at: Fairmont Waterfront Green Hotel Initiatives
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