Tag Archives: Honeybee

Mourning with those who Mourn

I had a very sad note this week from the Vancouver Island Beekeeping club. They put out a newsletter called the Bee Line. I wanted to share this part of the article with you.

Last month I attended a meeting in Duncan with the Valley Beekeepers. They requested a meeting with Paul van estendorp to discuss the need for support for beekeepers that suffered huge losses this winter.

Under these conditions, support is necessary to make it viable to be a honey bee producer on the Vancouver Island. Trust me; this was not a very pleasant get together. There were about forty people in the room, and one by one they told their crushing stories of bee loss. I was stunned to hear those that wintered down over 300 colonies, and by January all but about 60 remain wintered 30 and lost all, wintered 175 and have 19 left, wintered 22 and have 3. Wintered 12 and have 1. There were tears in the room, and it was well over an hour to before all had told the facts of their loss. Losses in that room were very close to 1000 colonies and maybe 159 remain. You don’t need a percentage, or a dollar sign to see the devastating costs over the past several months.

There was no pattern to the losses, as all beekeepers treatments were varied, but timely and according to best practises. All reported colonies going into late summer/early fall with abundant bees with good stores of pollen and honey. By early winter losses were starting to show, and by early February the devastation was pronounced.

This story breaks my heart. I have spoken to several beekeepers on this island and they have had similar losses though not to the extent and volume of these beekeepers, as the ones on Pender are hobbyists. Though the sadness carries over no matter if you lose one colony or one hundred.

The honeybee loss has struck a chord with the media as well. The Times Colonist has featured a couple articles. CBC has had a special on the bee loss and everyone has an opinion on it that I’ve talked to here.

In the meantime, the enthusiasm for honeybees is also increasing steadily. I’ve had more people coming into my work, asking if I have honey yet. (Which I do not, thank you for your inquiries.) And I’ve received more interesting links to honeybees. Check this one out! Her name is Agathena Dyck and she does a lot of art work with bees.


The beauty that bees are capable of just by doing what they know, being who they are, this is what amazes me about honeybees. Somehow honeybees have carved out an existence complimenting their environment. It frustrates me that humans have not figured out a way to do this. We are more of a smash ‘n grab species. Why?? I feel like I am repeating David Lee Murphy cliche “Why can’t we all just get along?”

I hate to despair or bring anyone down, but 90% bee loss is horrific and terrifying. So a small challenge, I urge you to support your local honey producers as they are definitely struggling and any purchase of honey or beeswax from a local producer is going to help the economy and increase the number of people willing to keep bees and invest in this incredible species!

Thanks for reading and Happy Saturday!

This neighbourhood is gettin’ Seedy!

We have placed our seed order, we have wrangled our seed-saving inventory and we are getting ready to do some planting.

It’s funny that I’ve lived so oblivious to season changes all my life. I mean, I think of the season changes as what clothes I can now wear or put away. Now my seasons mean very different things. This is my second year growing a vegetable garden. This is my second upcoming Spring with honeybees and I’m gearing up. Anticipating.


This is our second year buying seeds from Salt Spring Seeds. Last year we purchased leek seeds, multi-hued quinoa and some other varieties that we were well-pleased with.


We purchased our beans and peas last year from West Coast seeds. We also got to eat food that another farm ordered seeds from these guys so we’ve seen great results.

This year we’re keeping in mind what food we ate last year, what did well, what food we’d like to eat and what plants will be good bee food. With so many choices, we definitely have to prioritize. We’ll keep you posted as we make the final plans for our garden. Anything you’ve had particular success with or recommend we try growing? We’ve been looking for Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes) but so far, we’ve only found a seed company in New Brunswick that sells them. Any suggestions?

Any plants in your area that you noticed the bees were all over?


Because those are the ones that I’ll want too! (Photo curtesy of West Coast seeds.)

Flurry of Saturday and Sunday Flurries



First I had to deal with my sprouts. The quinoa, like last time, sprouted red and green stems and had a peculiar odour which I would normally associate with socks. This is the “healthy” smell that I described before when I made Quinoa and Honey Bread. Theresa and her dad came over because they wanted to watch me feed the bees. I fed them pollen patties that arrived in the mail this week and some medicated sugar syrup. I am medicating my bees for American Foulbrood and Nosema. These are two out of about 4 causes for the recent drop in honeybees.


After this, we went to Theresa’s and made fresh pasta to have with our spaghetti.

p3140021Then we built beehives.

p3140022p3140023p3140024But today it’s snowing. I had big plans for the garden. I wanted to do some weeding at Clam Bay. Big plans! I think Winter is haunting me. And taunting me.

I’m not impressed.


The Extraction

Today I was given two frames of capped honey by a friend who’s bees died. Take a moment to remember the dead bees…


Anyway, she was burning her frames that had dead moldy bees on it but she managed to find two frames that had capped honey in it with no mold. She’s leaving for Washington State early tomorrow morning and didn’t have time to process the honey.; which meant I got to! For all my talk of bees, for all my care of bees, I’m still a “newbee” myself. I have never extracted any honey.

The method you see here is for the hobbiest. This is not how they do it commercially nor how I will do it in the summer when I extract my honey. Usually you have an extractor that uses centrifugal force to fling the honey out of the wax cells and against a cylinder pot like container. The method I use is the poor man’s method. The method that you use when you have no other option…