Saturday, February 28 is Bee-Day! On this day, the Toronto Beekeeper’s Co-op (TBC) will host its annual day-long workshop to educate the bee-curious, exploring the fascinating world of honey bees, wild bees and featuring presentations by wild bee experts as well as urban bee-keeping enthusiasts.
We are all aware of the crisis that faces bees throughout the world, with populations of bees diminishing alarmingly since 2005 largely due to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) used in the industry. Of course it’s not just the fact that our honey supply is in peril, bees have always been and continue to be fundamentally important for their role in pollinating crops:
“Honey bees – wild and domestic – perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, but the best and healthiest food – fruits, nuts, and vegetables – are pollinated by bees. Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.”- Greenpeace
Steps (insect-sized steps) are being taken, however, to address this crisis, with Europe instituting a two year ban on neonics in 2013, and, more recently, the Ontario government becoming the first in North America to restrict the pesticide’s use, hoping to reduce the acreage on which neonic treated seeds are used by 80%
“In Ontario, all corn, canola and most soybean seeds are coated with neonics. The province has said just 10 to 20 per cent of the five million corn and soybean acreage requires neonics to ward of yield-destroying insects. The pesticide is also used by growers of flowers, fruits, vegetables and sod. The Ontario plan covers only corn and soybean, which are grown for animal feed or biofuels.”-Globe and Mail
The Toronto Beekeeper’s Co-op is hoping that Bee Day will demonstrate to the average citizen what we can do to help out bees, exploring a wide range of apiary basics, including: bee friendly gardens, interactive hive and equipment demonstrations, bee biology and lifecycles, hive management and wild bee conservation. Be ready for an action packed day: The keynote address will be given by Dr. Laurence Packer, head of the Packer Bee Lab at York University and author of Keeping the Bees. At 11:00 a.m. participants will break out into groups with experts giving four presentations: Enticing and Conserving Bees in your Garden; How to get your Community Involved in Saving Bees; A Beekeeper’s Year; and Threats to Bee Health.
After a complimentary vegan lunch, the moderated panel of experts will gather between 1:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to explore: How Cities Are Helping to Save Bees. The panelists are Scott MacIvor (Toronto’s Wild Bees), Brendan Berhmann (Toronto Seed Library), Kim Fellows (Pollination Canada), Pieter Basedow (U of T Bees), Tom Nolan (UTBA) and Gillian Leitch (Alter Eden).
The event sold out last year, so if you are planning on going, get your tickets here and get them early. Admission to the day long event, with a vegan lunch included, is only fifty dollars, with proceeds going toward helping the bees and the TBC.
In the meantime, have a look at this cool Australian invention that collects honey from bees at a minimal disturbance; they’re working on the prototype now. Honey on tap!