Laura Stewart and Riley Pearson.

Laura Stewart and Riley Pearson.

The buzz about urban beekeeping

Since the 1990s, honey bees worldwide have been on the decline and that has had a huge impact on the ecosystem.

Apis mellifera or as you likely know them… honey bees.

When they’re not promoting cereal, these fuzzy pollinators are working behind the scenes to support the existence of most living creatures.

Though we may not consider our yellow friend every time we sweeten our coffee with their honey or buy fresh vegetables at the grocery store that they pollinated, these guys need more of our attention.

Since the 1990s, honey bees worldwide have been on the decline and that has had a huge impact on the ecosystem.

Bees make up a large portion of pollinators in the world and without them, things look pretty grim.

It’s estimated that the economic value connected to bees is around $265 billion worldwide. If there are no bees doing what they do best, a third of the food that we depend on would no longer be there.

That means a large decline in the amount of fruits, vegetables, and of course, honey.

You may be wondering what could cause such a rapid decline of this oh-so-important species. Pesticides have shown to have the largest negative impact on bee populations. Also at work are parasites, pathogens, and climate change, all aiding in the decline of bees.

Earlier this year the U.S. government announced that seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees have officially been added to the endangered species list, meaning that they are now the first U.S. bee species to have federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Trail has taken notice of this worldwide dilemma and is trying to do their part. They have lifted the ban on beekeeping within municipal limits. This change in municipal rules was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

Now Castlegar is looking to follow suit. Keeping bees isn’t as easy as installing an artificial hive in your backyard however. There are many things one must consider before jumping into bee keeping.

First and foremost, training is highly recommended. Improper beekeeping techniques can lead to disease that can rapidly spread, having the opposite effect of helping the bees.

Location is crucial in the survival of your bees. You need a spot with suitable access, wind coverage, shade with dabbled sunlight, and a water source.

It is also a good idea to spend some time beekeeping at someone else’s beehives before you dive straight in on your own. Contact a local beekeeper and have them show you the ropes of how to keep a successful hive.

If you’ve taken some training, have spent some time with bees, and are ready to start your own backyard hive, there is a local company selling beekeeping supplies you may want to check out.

Kootenay Beekeeping Supplies in Castlegar happily provides the West Kootenay area with beekeeping equipment and glassware for honey.

If keeping bees doesn’t suit you, there are still many options for you to help create a bee-positive world.

A great step in the right direction would be to petition against all bee-killing pesticides and adopting a more ecological way of farming.

Putting a plan in place that includes promoting bee awareness will keep the world on track while raising awareness about the subject.

Finally, you can create a bee haven in your backyard by planting a garden with flowers that are attractive to bees like cosmos, asters and sunflowers.

By keeping bees around, your garden and those in your neighbourhood will be pollinated and your shelves will be stocked with liquid gold — honey!