There’s a buzz of excitement at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden where two new hives now house around 5,000 bees for educational and practical purposes.
The bees will help the garden grow and the hives will be used for public demonstrations and educational talks highlighting the honey bee’s importance in the ecosystem.
Pollinators like bees are responsible for helping produce about 75 per cent of the food we eat, according to statistics from the David Suzuki Foundation. Without pollinators, much of the food we love would be lost.
The Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden Society is happy to be housing the important insects.
“It’s a great benefit to showing how plants and animals interact and the importance of pollinators to growing food, but also pollinators in nature have such a vital role and this is the one we know best, the honey bees,” said society president Paddy Wales. “So it’s an example of how we can care for other beneficial insects and think of the insects not necessarily as pests — that by and large they are part of a good life, not something to be dispatched.”
The two new hives were recently set up by the Sunshine Coast Beekeepers’ Association through a partnership that’s proving beneficial for both the association and the botanical garden.
“People don’t realize how important bees are, so this is a demonstration site so more and more people can come and see and learn about them. [Bees] are in major crisis right now,” said association president Heather Freeman.
She explained that last year mortality rates among bees on the Coast was acceptable, but the year before 90 per cent of the local honey bee population died off.
The massive loss is a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder and it has been noticed sporadically in Western honey bee colonies in North America since 2006.
Habitat loss, pesticide use, environmental changes and mites are among the causes pointed to for the phenomenon.
“For us as a bee club, it’s important that we’re bringing awareness to the education of bees,” Freeman said.
If you would like to visit the new bee yard, you can view it during the botanical garden’s regular hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week this summer.
While guided tours will take you past the site, a look inside the hives will have to wait until members of the beekeepers’ association are on hand.
Dates and times for those demonstrations will be posted on the botanical garden website at www.coastbotanicalgarden.org.
The bee yard is protected by an electric fence to keep bears away from the honey that will be produced in the future. The area is clearly marked with yellow tape and there is a viewing area behind glass for those who don’t want to get too close.
The Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden is at 5941 Mason Road in West Sechelt.