Bees are an essential element to a healthy environment. And in June, a group of different community members from across northern Manitoba had the opportunity to learn all about beekeeping and just how important bees are. The workshop was facilitated by Eugene and Steven Larocque from Northern Gold Honey Bee-Keepers. The workshop focused on what is needed for bees to produce honey in northern climates, the supplies you’ll need to start up your own bee hive and how to determine if the types of flowers growing in your community are right for honey bees.
Our first session covered the basics of beekeeping and the best way to keep you hive safe from the extreme elements that come with the north. An important part of keeping your bees happy and more importantly “busy” is ensuring that you have enough flowers growing in the areas surrounding your hive. Our group ventured out into different areas surrounding Thompson to check out bees busy at work and learned how to identify the best plants for honey bees. Many flowers that grow naturally are really great for bees, especially dandelions. The sweetness of honey depends on the type of flower the bees get nectar from.
We were able to get up close to a hive and see first-hand. Bees are very fascinating creatures, always working and thinking collectively. For example, if one bee is mad then they are all mad or if a worker bee leaves the hive and comes back empty handed, that bee will not be allowed back into the hive. The hive belonged to our facilitator Steven who fed the bees a sweet treat right off of his hand, without getting stung! During our visits no one was stung, as long as you’re calm and relaxed bees will not bug you. Which was definitely a good thing because when a bee stings, it releases a scent that alerts the other bees and they all go into attack mode.
By the time our group was done exploring and learning about beekeeping in the great outdoors, everyone was “thinking like bee” and felt confident in identifying areas back in our own communities. With the knowledge that was gained and excitement about beekeeping, we were able to arrange two new honey bee projects in Cross Lake and Wabowden. It will take some time before honey is being produce but the future is looking pretty sweet!
Photo Credit: Northern Gold Honey Bee-Keepers
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