Honeybees at the COC


The Canadian Opera Company is delighted to be part of the ever-growing support of honeybees, Currently we host seven hives onthe roof of our opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Follow the honeybees' progress on Parlando, with visits and posts from beekeeper Fred Davis!

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Update from Fred

Beekeeper Fred Davis updates us on the honeybees' progress:

This week I will check the two colonies for a buildup of male bee (drone) eggs.  Drones are the unfertilized eggs a queen lays. As the egg passes through she will prevent it from coming in contact with the sperm she received during her maiden voyage last year. Drones are a good news/bad news story: If I see a lot of drones eggs it might indicate an oncoming swarm. The hives needs a lot of males to inseminate the new virgin queen which will remain behind when the colony swarms. I want to prevent a swarm so we can get more honey, so I will remove the drones.
The good news about drones is that they act as a non-chemical, mite prevention measure. The parasitic tracheal mite which plagues all honeybees in North America except for Newfoundland (so far) loves the larger drone cells and the drone eggs. By encouraging the hive to build more drone cells I can remove these bad boys and reduce the number of mites in the hive. Think of a mite as having a bug on your back the size of your fist sucking the blood out of you. It's heavy, affects your flight, and depletes your energy. There is no silver bullet to rid the hive of mites but we try.
A good beekeeper must keep his/her eye on the drones!

Posted by Gianna Wichelow / in Bee Update / comments (0) / permalink


Bee Video

Here's a quick video on our bees, featuring beekeeper Fred Davis. Enjoy!

Posted by Jennifer Dougall / in Video / comments (2) / permalink


The Day the Bees Moved in

On April 25 the COC honeybees made the journey from Guelph to Toronto with beekeeper Fred Davis. On arrival Fred invited us to sniff the interior of his car, which had the most wonderful aroma of warm, honeyish beeswax.

The interior of Fred's car:

Waiting by the principal dressing-rooms to take the elevator to Ring 4:

The two starter hives were surprisingly small, but Fred explained that the tall beehives we are used to seeing are ones that have been grown over time. As the population of bees increases, so extra levels are added to the hive to let the population spread out. Extra levels are added only as needed to ensure the bees can keep the temperature of the hive consistent, between 92 and 93° F.

When the hives were first put in place, each one contained one queen bee and 5,000 worker bees and drones. The queen lays upwards of 1,200 eggs per day, most of which survive. At full capacity, each hive will house up to 60,000 bees.

Once on the roof of the opera house, the bees were gently placed on pallets.

A small bucket of water was placed nearby, with a mound of little rocks so that the bees could perch there to drink.

Fred opened a small hole in each hive and a few bees slowly emerged to check out their new home. He explained how very different an environment this was for them and they'd take a few days to feel comfortable enough to roam further.


Posted by Gianna Wichelow / in Moving In / comments (2) / permalink

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Honey Nutritional Information

Read the nutritional guidelines for the FSC Honeybees Honey!