David Macdonald carries the first of two hives of honeybees onto the roof of the District of North Vancouver\’s municipal hall. Photograph by: photo Michael Wei
THE District of North Vancouver got sweeter last month with the addition of thousands of honey bees on the roof of municipal hall.
“The bees, they’re the canary in the coal mine and they’re dying off,” said David Macdonald, the beekeeper charged with overseeing two hives totalling between 30,000 and 50,000 bees on a platform on municipal hall.
The hives are particularly important in light of the Colony Collapse Disorder which has ravaged the honey bee population in the United States, resulting in losses exceeding 40 per cent of the bee population since 2007, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Our environment’s under attack, and we can take some small, incremental steps as individuals to make our community more livable,” Macdonald explained.
The local bee population has also taken a hard hit according to Eric Stromgren, first vice-president with the B.C. Honey Producers’ Association.
“We’ve been having major colony losses in B.C. since the winter of 2005/2006, at least,” Stromgren said.
While the high losses don’t constitute Colony Collapse Disorder, Stromgren said an average of 30 per cent of B.C. hives have been lost each year.
Part of the blame for the declining bee population resides with the limited agriculture that dominates many major farms, according to Macdonald.
“You’ve got these gigantic farms and it’s only one crop, and it’s a desert for bees,” he said. “The maintaining of bees by the hobby beekeeper is what’s going to save them.”
The bees tend to roam within an approximate fivekilometre radius of the rooftop hive, according to Macdonald.
“Rooftop beekeeping is great because there are so many varied sources of pollen and nectar,” he said.
Macdonald said he’s hopeful gardeners in the community will do their part to help the hive.
“What people can do in the community is they can plant bee-friendly gardens,” he said.
Macdonald recommended cutting out chemicals and pesticides while planting durable flowers and plants to help the bee population thrive.
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