Volunteer beekeeper finds happiness in the hive
May 17, 2019 | Campus Life
I have been stung zero times. Bees are very calm. You can hear when a hive is upset because they'll buzz at different pitches. If the hive is calm and the queen is there, it's zzzzzzzzzz. But if it’s upset, it’s zzz! zzz! zzz! zzz! zzz! Plus, we use suits here, so there's nothing to worry about if they sound angry. Hornets, however…. Hornets are the worst. They’ve stung me probably five different times. The smell and sweetness of the honey attracts the hornets, which also eat bees. So if the hive is weak or collapsing, hornets will start coming in and try to steal from the hive. The more that come, the closer the hive comes to collapsing. Summer last year was really hot — just perfect for hornets.
This will be my third summer beekeeping. I took my first workshop when I was in Bali. Beekeeping is very different there – it’s very hands-on. They don’t even use suits. When I came back to Edmonton after travelling for a few months, the city had just approved the urban food systems initiative — the same bylaw that allows you to have chickens in your backyard. I took a training workshop where I met a neighbour with a hive, and so I help with her bees, in addition to volunteering with the six hives on Building 5. The hives get so heavy in peak summertime and you need all the help you can get. It’s just a lovely thing to share that.
Something about bees is just so alluring. Their community and how they interact is weirdly democratic. If the queen is no longer producing as much as she should be or has slowed down, they all get together and make another queen cell and feed it royal jelly and hide it from the other queen. Then those two queens duke it out, or one will just leave. I find it fascinating and beautiful. And I love that I can have a hobby in the city that makes me feel so happy.
— Amelia, 2nd year student, Bachelor of Arts (aspiring philosophy major)
Amelia is part of the team that won MacEwan’s first MECathon competition. Check out her winning idea.