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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Fred Preps the Honeybees for Winter

Beekeeper Fred Davis updates us on the honeybees' progress:

As the weather turns cooler and after all the honey has been removed, my attention turns to fighting the varrao mites that plague honeybees throughout North America. I applied the medication approved for use by OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) to combat varrao mites and have been feeding the bees a sugar-water solution which will supplement the honey I left on their hives.They will turn the solution into food and place it in the cells for use later.

I also applied two other types of medication. One to fight a dysentery honeybees sometime get called Nosema and another disease called American Foul brood. Both of these diseases can destroy an entire hive over the winter months when the bees are weakest.

The food they have now and the solution they take in and store over the coming week will be their food stores for the winter. I plan to wrap the hives using an insulated sheath and have already moved the hives close to the west wall. The wall will radiate some heat on warmer days throughout the winter and spring months and will serve to protect the hives against the wind. I want to add a wind break against the east winds. Today I went to a hardware store looking for some fencing. It's very windy up there so this should help.

I will continue to feed the bees with a sugar-water solution as long as I can. The mixture is two parts sugar to one part water. I place the solution in Ziploc baggies and lay them on top of the hive bars. Then I poke a few holes in the bag so the bees can suck up the sweet solution.

The varrao mites were extremely bad this year so I have decided to apply another medication recommended by OMAFRA next weekend. I will keep my fingers crossed until spring and hope that both hives make it through what is supposed to be a long, hard winter.

All the supers have been cleaned and placed in a cool room at the FSC. Keeping the wax frames dry and cold is important. It protects them against damage from wax moths that can lay eggs in the wax and destroy the wax cells the bees worked so hard to make throughout the summer months. Also we don't want the frames exposed to moisture. Moisture can result in mould, which requires additional effort by the bees to clean. The newest scientific papers believe that mould is a major player in colony collapse disorder. I am very happy we found a suitable location for our honey frames during the winter months. They will be ready for use next year and with that the bees will have a lot less work do before they store the honey. This means we should have more honey next season so long as our honeybees pull through.

Posted by Gianna Wichelow / in Update from Fred, Bees in winter / comments (11) / permalink


Update from Fred

Beekeeper Fred Davis updates us on the honeybees' progress:

Last weekend (September 26) I removed the last of the honey from the two hives. There is a lot of uncapped honey we will have to extract and bottle this week. I'll provide an update once we measure it.

The hives seem healthy but I know they are struggling with a heavy varroa mite infestation. I think most beekeepers are experiencing the same thing. The mites took advantage of the long laying season and their numbers grew especially in the late summer. I applied the chemicals approved to combat the mites just after I removed the honey. I hope it works.

Next I will design and build a box to shelter the hives from the high winds. The box will act as a wind break. It will surround the hives leaving enough room for them to get in and around it. I will also wrap the hives as the temperatures really drop - sometime in December.

My time tending to the bees is drawing to a close for the year. Next I will find space to store the extracted frames and supers (boxes in which the frames sit) and do some cleaning up. It's been a very eventful year. That day in April when we first installed the hives seems so long ago and so much has happened. The bees could not have asked for better weather during their "opening" season at the Four Seasons Centre.

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


Another Vote for City-based Honeybees

An article from BBC News (and excerpted by The Globe and Mail) has this to say:

“Bees in urban and suburban settings have a richer, healthier diet than bees in farmland settings, say researchers,” BBC News reports. You can read more here.

Posted by Gianna Wichelow / in Did you Know? / comments (0) / permalink

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Honey Nutritional Information

Read the nutritional guidelines for the FSC Honeybees Honey!