GreenUP announces community beekeeping program

B's Bees will bring together local beekeepers, farmers, and landowners

GreenUP's two bee hives at Ecology Park in Peterborough, which members of the public can visit, have become an important part of the organization's programming about the importance of pollinators (photo courtesy of GreenUP)
GreenUP's two bee hives at Ecology Park in Peterborough, which members of the public can visit, have become an important part of the organization's programming about the importance of pollinators (photo courtesy of GreenUP)

GreenUP is developing a Community Beekeeping Program. The GreenUP B’s Bees program will enable members of the community to improve habitat for bees, become educated about pollinators, and get involved in citizen science projects throughout the Peterborough area.

Honey bees and native bees are important agricultural workers that have experienced significant setbacks in the last eight years. Ontario beekeepers have experienced unusually high over-winter losses of honeybees, reaching 58 percent following the winter of 2013-14. The typical over-winter loss is only 15 percent. Habitat loss, use of pesticides and herbicides, and increased presence of pests like Varroa mites have placed significant stress on honey bees and other native pollinators.

Interest in pollinators is growing in cities and honey bees have captured people’s imagination. GreenUP’s work with native bees and honey bees has shown us that people want to do hands-on work to make a difference for pollinators. GreenUP is using its experience, combined with that of other exceptional programs across Canada, to develop this made-in-Peterborough Community Beekeeping Program.

The B’s Bees program, named for a generous local donor, will bring together local beekeepers, farmers, and landowners who want to help educate and inform our community about the importance of pollinators. GreenUP will be arranging gatherings over the fall and winter to explore the beekeeping assets we have in our community.

How might you become involved in the B’s Bees Community Beekeeping program? Imagine that you could join a group that had access to honey bee hives set up in a bee yard. Imagine also that you had access to some of the more expensive equipment needed for beekeeping. Imagine you were part of a group that helped answer the questions new beekeepers have (there are many!), and imagine a program that would arrange for experienced speakers who could give hands on lessons on how to work with bees.

Last summer honey bees officially arrived at GreenUP Ecology Park and our two hives have become an important part of GreenUP’s programming. It was a steep learning curve for GreenUP’s two very new beekeepers this summer, but they are hooked on bees! Honey bees may just be the gateway insect for increased pollinator learning.

Community members can visit the two operational hives at Ecology Park. GreenUP has five more hives that were set up outside the city last spring. Two of these hives are located at Circle Organic Farm, south of Millbrook; two are located on a farm in Douro; and one hive is in Stewart Hall.

Each landowner has generously agreed to host hives on their property to support GreenUP’s programming and research. GreenUP staff recently led a Monarch Butterflies workshop on property owned by our friends at Kawartha Land Trust and next spring a hive will be coming to that property as well.

GreenUP has a 22 year history of providing workshops, family gatherings, public events, and learning opportunities in and around Peterborough. None of this would be possible without the individuals and organizations who are our partners. The GreenUP Ecology Park is one of the best ways to experience the fruit of these partnerships.

From Ecology Park’s earliest days, staff and dedicated volunteers have worked together to create a collection of gardens filled with native flowers, shrubs, and trees. Funders, both local and from further afield, have contributed to the many projects on display here. GreenUP is always looking for new opportunities for learning.

If you are interested in getting involved in the B’s Bees program at Ecology Park and learning more about our education programming contact Marcy Adzich at marcy.adzich@greenup.on.ca.

Interested in beekeeping in general? Take a look at resources available at the Ontario Beekeepers Association at www.ontariobee.com, and the Central Ontario Beekeepers Association at www.centralontariobeekeepers.ca.

If you have questions about other aspects of the work GreenUP does in the community and how you can become involved, email Peter Hughes at peter.hughes@greenup.on.ca.

GreenUP is committed to building a healthier community by working with our neighbours on projects we all care about.

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Peter Hughes

Peter Hughes is the Executive Director of Peterborough GreenUP. With 28 years of public service, Peter has directed a municipal Parks and Recreation department and taught in post-secondary education. Peter’s formal education is in Environmental Resource science and community development.

Peter has been active throughout the Greater Peterborough, City of Kawartha Lakes, and northern Durham region as a volunteer with emerging community groups. He is an avid community builder who uses citizen science and community gardening as a way to promote active citizenship.

You can follow Peter on Twitter at @ptbohughes and GreenUP at @ptbogreenup.

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