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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Shall We?

Worker bees do a little dance to communicate with each other to report on pollen findings. They can express to their hive mates how to get to the food as well. See more here!

Worker bees also perform dances to let receiver bees know that foragers have returned with food.

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Update from Fred

Beekeeper Fred Davis updates us on the honeybees' progress:

I removed one frame last weekend and examined it for varroa mites. This one frame (one of 10 in each of the bottom brood chambers) is unique because there is no (starter) foundation in it. Instead we let the bees build out the comb themselves. It takes a while for them to do this but the bees build naturally larger cells into which the queen typically lays unfertilized eggs. These drone/male eggs will hatch 24 days later. (It takes 21 days for a worker egg to hatch once the cell is capped). The varroa mites prefer to lay their eggs in the drone cells once the egg is laid because the gestation period for the males is longer than the female honeybees. So the mites get to produce more and eat more by sticking to the drone cells. Ok - enough of my borax. Drone larvae serve as a great indicator of how many mites have infested the hive. If we see a lot of mites on them we have to consider medicating right away. That would have a negative impact on how much honey we get that season because we don't eat honey that has been medicated but at least we could rescue the hive. I found one mite in my sample of over 300 drones. That's pretty good. I will continue to observe throughout the season and after harvest when the hive becomes weaker. 

I refreshed the water supply last Thursday and plan to put a larger container for water and maybe some peat moss in small containers because of its ability to retain moisture - and it's easy for the honeybees to walk on and drink from wet peat moss. This weekend I'll check the hives again and might put on the honey supers.

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Top Ten Cool Things About the Amazing Honeybee

10. A honeybee strokes its wings at a tremendous speed of 11,400 times per minute. This stroking helps to produce the unique bee buzz we get to hear when it flies.

9. The queen lays upwards of 1200 eggs per day.

8. Honeybees do a dance which alerts other bees where nectar and pollen was located. The dance explains direction and distance. Bees also communicate by secreting pheromones (for example, alarm pheromones to indicate danger or to repel enemies).

7. There are approximately 600,000 honeybee colonies in Canada.

6. A honeybee visits approximately 50 to 100 flowers every day. Those little wings must get tired.

5. A honeybee can fly at the speed of 15 mph. It is also known to venture as far as 6 miles to collect nectar from flowers.

4. Honeybees are naturally docile and well-behaved – unlike their more aggressive cousins, wasps and hornets. Honeybees rarely sting when they are foraging for pollen in flowers or in a garden. Protecting their colony (their home) is their primary concern – therefore, the beekeeper is most likely to agitate the bees. In the end, it is the beekeeper that is at risk of getting stung, rather than the general public.

3. All the bees in a particular colony smell alike, allowing guard bees to easily spot intruders.

2. Bees cannot recognize the color red… but, they do see ultraviolet colors.


1. Honey bees are the only insects that make food for us!

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Honey Nutritional Information

Read the nutritional guidelines for the FSC Honeybees Honey!