President’s message (June 2023)

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This month I’ve included some somber news to start, but then some very optimistic news after that.

Hive Survival

At our May meeting, Shirley Richardson reported out on the Hive Survival Survey for last winter. First off, we owe her a big round of applause; the emails, phone calls, and follow up contacts was a LOT of work. And it didn’t paint a great picture. She contacted 204 members, and 123 with hives responded. Of those:

  • 88 people had 1-3 hives: Of 174 hives going into winter, 55 survived: 31.6%
  • 21 people had 4-8 hives: Of 127 going into winter,39 survived: 30.7%
  • 11 people had 9-30 hives: Of 159 hives going into winter, 48 survived: 30.2%

A somber picture indeed and, from talking to Paul Van Westendorp, our provincial apiarist, that picture was the same amongst the larger commercial beekeepers as well. Lessons to be learned? Aggressive mite control, winterize your hives properly, and – keep your fingers crossed…

And now onto more optimistic subjects. After a slow start from the cold weather earlier this spring, this year’s season is definitely in full throttle! My packages have exploded and now look like two Dr. Seuss towers, with a constant stream of fliers shimmering in the sunlight. They go out like fighter jets and come back like fully-loaded water bombers. It’s fun to watch them lumbering back through the air, and often doing full faceplants on the front of the boxes before sliding down to the landing board!


But that activity also means we are in the thick of swarm season. Our swarm line has received calls about 17 honeybee swarms (also 25 bumblebee swarms and 3 calls about mason bees or wasps) – and there are undoubtedly a lot more swarms that didn’t go through our swarm line!

So go through your hives regularly! At least weekly if not every 5 days or so, and look for evidence of crowding, and look on every frame for those queen cells! Time to split the hive? Don’t know what to do? Look on our website for the list of mentors that can help you out.

And this brings up an important point. While many beekeepers don’t want to see their investment fly away, for various reasons some beekeepers don’t mind. But your neighbours are often not at all enthusiastic about receiving a swarm in their yard, on their porch or car or in their soffets…. So, to keep the good name of beekeepers unsullied, please do your best to
prevent this!!


And soon it will be time to take hives to the outyards for some fireweed honey!! We will be sending out an email in the next two weeks outlining the process we use to allocate spots, and inviting people to apply.

And this month’s meeting is this Thursday June 8th at the Brentwood Seniors’ Centre 1229 Clarke Rd in Brentwood. It is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other beekeepers, talk about relevant subjects, and get your questions answered!

2 thoughts on “President’s message (June 2023)

  1. Michelle McIntosh Reply

    I am finding big bumblebees dead in my backyard. I think we are almost at 10 over the last two weeks. I just saw this one stumbling around in circles so I gave it some hummingbird food… it gobbled it up then had a nap. I am organic in my yard but not sure about neighborhood . Is there anything I can do to educate neighbours about the bees? Is there a diseased I don’t know about? Is there anything I can do?? I have lots of flowers and trees…. My neighbour has a pond that may have chemicals in it…. I just don’t want to see any more dead bumblebees!!

    • Werner Grundlingh Reply

      There could be many reasons for this Michelle. Some are normal, while some might be cause for concern. Normal deaths occur in colonies as the bumblebees work throughout the season. If you have a nest nearby, you may be more inclined to see dead bumblebees. More problematic could be the use of pesticides on areas that the bumblebees frequent. However, it’s difficult to assess where this might be, as their flight ranges are quite large. Pools typically attract bees (in general), but don’t use pesticides; chemicals, yes, which may be the attractant, as it provides nutrients that are otherwise inaccessible or harder to find. However, bees mostly drown in pools than ingesting some problematic substance.

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