Hamilton duo wants to put a beehive in your backyard

News Apr 13, 2016 by Joel OpHardt The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton is about to get buzzier.

Urban bee farming business Humble Bee has restructured this winter and is looking to expand.

"We have 35 hives total," said co-owner Dan Douma, who jumped on board with founder Luc Peters before the company restructured to a partnership this winter. "By the end of the summer we could be at 150."

The duo, who have more than 20 years of beekeeping between them, run their business as a one-stop shop in the Hamilton area for selling bees, local honey and beekeeping education.

While most of the company's bees are in rural Hamilton yards, Douma says they do have one set of hives in Westdale, one in central Hamilton, and one on the roof of the Mustard Seed Co-op grocery story on York Boulevard.

The prospective growth in Hamilton is a win-win for everyone, says Peters. For urban farms and gardens it means more pollination and better food production. For them it means purer honey, and healthier bees.

"Without beekeeping there are no honeybees anymore," said Douma, adding that feral honeybee colonies are expected to last no more than two years at this point. The combination of pesticides, disease and changes in land use have been detrimental to their survival.

The city, on the other hand, provides an ideal candidate for bee colonies, not only because it's mostly devoid of the deadly neonicotinoid insecticide found in farming areas, but also because cities tend to be a few degrees warmer and offer crucial diversity in diet.

Honey bee populations, an irreplaceable pollinator for the agriculture industry, have been in a precarious spot for years, especially in Ontario, said Brandi Lee Macdonald, beekeeper and faculty member at McMaster.

Urban beekeeping "can play a role" in stemming that decline, said Macdonald. That has to come with responsible beekeeping, she says, which includes reducing the potential for swarming, and making sure the bees aren't accessing unhealthy food sources in the city.

Peters and Douma are now looking for volunteers to offer up available spaces. Ideal candidates have flat, accessible rooftops and yards with high fences.

"If you have a tall barrier around the hive, once the bees fly up they tend not to bother anyone," said Peters.

There the bees have access to a wide selection of sumacs, lindens, chestnut trees — you name it — offering unique local flavours at each hive.

Douma says that while commercial rooftops typically avoid provincially regulated spacing issues, some homeowners could run into problems. The City of Hamilton also defines bees as livestock.

Peters advises that all beehives must be legally registered with the province.

Anyone looking to get involved can choose whether they would like to simply host a Humble Bee hive, or get involved themselves by attending workshops or private lessons.

For more information go to www.humblebee.buzz or email info@humblebee.buzz

jophardt@thespec.com

905-526-3408

Hamilton duo wants to put a beehive in your backyard

News Apr 13, 2016 by Joel OpHardt The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton is about to get buzzier.

Urban bee farming business Humble Bee has restructured this winter and is looking to expand.

"We have 35 hives total," said co-owner Dan Douma, who jumped on board with founder Luc Peters before the company restructured to a partnership this winter. "By the end of the summer we could be at 150."

The duo, who have more than 20 years of beekeeping between them, run their business as a one-stop shop in the Hamilton area for selling bees, local honey and beekeeping education.

While most of the company's bees are in rural Hamilton yards, Douma says they do have one set of hives in Westdale, one in central Hamilton, and one on the roof of the Mustard Seed Co-op grocery story on York Boulevard.

The prospective growth in Hamilton is a win-win for everyone, says Peters. For urban farms and gardens it means more pollination and better food production. For them it means purer honey, and healthier bees.

"Without beekeeping there are no honeybees anymore," said Douma, adding that feral honeybee colonies are expected to last no more than two years at this point. The combination of pesticides, disease and changes in land use have been detrimental to their survival.

The city, on the other hand, provides an ideal candidate for bee colonies, not only because it's mostly devoid of the deadly neonicotinoid insecticide found in farming areas, but also because cities tend to be a few degrees warmer and offer crucial diversity in diet.

Honey bee populations, an irreplaceable pollinator for the agriculture industry, have been in a precarious spot for years, especially in Ontario, said Brandi Lee Macdonald, beekeeper and faculty member at McMaster.

Urban beekeeping "can play a role" in stemming that decline, said Macdonald. That has to come with responsible beekeeping, she says, which includes reducing the potential for swarming, and making sure the bees aren't accessing unhealthy food sources in the city.

Peters and Douma are now looking for volunteers to offer up available spaces. Ideal candidates have flat, accessible rooftops and yards with high fences.

"If you have a tall barrier around the hive, once the bees fly up they tend not to bother anyone," said Peters.

There the bees have access to a wide selection of sumacs, lindens, chestnut trees — you name it — offering unique local flavours at each hive.

Douma says that while commercial rooftops typically avoid provincially regulated spacing issues, some homeowners could run into problems. The City of Hamilton also defines bees as livestock.

Peters advises that all beehives must be legally registered with the province.

Anyone looking to get involved can choose whether they would like to simply host a Humble Bee hive, or get involved themselves by attending workshops or private lessons.

For more information go to www.humblebee.buzz or email info@humblebee.buzz

jophardt@thespec.com

905-526-3408

Hamilton duo wants to put a beehive in your backyard

News Apr 13, 2016 by Joel OpHardt The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton is about to get buzzier.

Urban bee farming business Humble Bee has restructured this winter and is looking to expand.

"We have 35 hives total," said co-owner Dan Douma, who jumped on board with founder Luc Peters before the company restructured to a partnership this winter. "By the end of the summer we could be at 150."

The duo, who have more than 20 years of beekeeping between them, run their business as a one-stop shop in the Hamilton area for selling bees, local honey and beekeeping education.

While most of the company's bees are in rural Hamilton yards, Douma says they do have one set of hives in Westdale, one in central Hamilton, and one on the roof of the Mustard Seed Co-op grocery story on York Boulevard.

The prospective growth in Hamilton is a win-win for everyone, says Peters. For urban farms and gardens it means more pollination and better food production. For them it means purer honey, and healthier bees.

"Without beekeeping there are no honeybees anymore," said Douma, adding that feral honeybee colonies are expected to last no more than two years at this point. The combination of pesticides, disease and changes in land use have been detrimental to their survival.

The city, on the other hand, provides an ideal candidate for bee colonies, not only because it's mostly devoid of the deadly neonicotinoid insecticide found in farming areas, but also because cities tend to be a few degrees warmer and offer crucial diversity in diet.

Honey bee populations, an irreplaceable pollinator for the agriculture industry, have been in a precarious spot for years, especially in Ontario, said Brandi Lee Macdonald, beekeeper and faculty member at McMaster.

Urban beekeeping "can play a role" in stemming that decline, said Macdonald. That has to come with responsible beekeeping, she says, which includes reducing the potential for swarming, and making sure the bees aren't accessing unhealthy food sources in the city.

Peters and Douma are now looking for volunteers to offer up available spaces. Ideal candidates have flat, accessible rooftops and yards with high fences.

"If you have a tall barrier around the hive, once the bees fly up they tend not to bother anyone," said Peters.

There the bees have access to a wide selection of sumacs, lindens, chestnut trees — you name it — offering unique local flavours at each hive.

Douma says that while commercial rooftops typically avoid provincially regulated spacing issues, some homeowners could run into problems. The City of Hamilton also defines bees as livestock.

Peters advises that all beehives must be legally registered with the province.

Anyone looking to get involved can choose whether they would like to simply host a Humble Bee hive, or get involved themselves by attending workshops or private lessons.

For more information go to www.humblebee.buzz or email info@humblebee.buzz

jophardt@thespec.com

905-526-3408