Marla Spivak, entomologist and honey bee researcher who developed the Minnesota Hygeinic strain of mite-clearing bees. Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Marla Spivak, Eric Mussen, Dewey Caron & others at BCHPA 2014 convention

I always look forward to the annual B.C. Honey Producers’ Association convention for two reasons. The first, but not most important one is that it comes towards the end of a season of heavy lifting. The approach of the AGM and its popular education day are signs that the frenetic summertime workload of looking after […]

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It's blueberry season in the Lower Mainland, This group of berries is typical of the crop at Doris and Harold Lougheed's U-pick at 19000 River Road in Richmond. Jeff Lee photo.

That not-so-secret award-generating U-pick blueberry farm is open

I have a secret blueberry patch that I frequent out on River Road in Richmond. It’s not one of those great swaths of blueberry bushes that spread into the distance. It isn’t even a very busy place, sandwiched among cranberry fields and the Fraser River. But the Lougheed’s little U-pick yard at 19000 River Road […]

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On bee-killing pesticides and CropLife Canada’s new CEO, a former Tory minister

The debate over neonicotinoid pesticides and their continuing effect on bees has reached the political level in Ottawa, where questions are now being asked about the propriety of a former Conservative minister working for CropLife Canada, the industry association defending those pesticides. Ordinarily ethics rules would prevent a former cabinet minister from directly going to work for […]

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Those well-worn magnifying glasses, through which my father saw his world of science, now have a place in my work as a beekeeper.

A father’s posthumous gift; magnifiers with which to see his world.

In his last years, wrecked by Parkinson’s Disease, my father was often unable to talk, and when he did so it was in painfully short clips. He could no longer walk, and his hands shook so much he could barely feed himself. Gone were the days of his science, his inquisitiveness, his robustness. He knew […]

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How many times have you seen this kind of a swarm, just out of safe reach? No ladder long enough, no way to reach it? We've made a simple solution using a collapsible window-washing or painting pole and an old water carrier with the bottom cut off.

How to make a honey bee swarm retrieval pole

With swarm season comes a multitude of challenges of how to successfully retrieve a colony that makes like a hive and splits. Many of us have seen the pictures of swarms in really, really odd places; on the wing tips of aircraft, under bicycle seats and on the tines of harrows and other farm equipment. […]

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We boxed the swarm right off the roof of the condo building; it came off the tree to the right,  four storeys up from the street. Easy-peasy! Photo: Sharon Lee

Two colonies; from swarm heaven to flying hell

It is a spectacular thing to chase a massive swarm as it moves straight down the middle of a major street, all while people go about their business, unaware of what is going on overhead. Recovering that swarm from the top of a four-storey tree, as its branches, bent heavy with bees, bend over the […]

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Hives for Humanity's Sarah Common [L] and her mother, Julia Common [R] with the help of Jim McLeod [M] check on a bee hive at the community garden on Vancouver's East Hastings.

Vancouver starts pollinator and honey bee education program

Vancouver is known for its greenery, affinity for parks and community gardens. But now it plans to do more to increase pollinator forage for both wild and domestic bees. You almost can’t walk anywhere in Canada’s third-largest city without stumbling on a pocket park or lush garden. We’re known for our cherry blossom festival. We are […]

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Amanda hives a package of Arataki bees from New Zealand in one of our yards. Jeff Lee photo.

Our package bees arrive, with a promise of a heavy work season

The evidence of this weekend’s frenetic beekeeping activity is all over the place. In our kitchen, the floor is sticky from the droplets of sugar water that dripped as we made up major amounts in preparation for imported New Zealand bees that arrived Sunday. Out back of the garage is a pyramid of stacked cardboard […]

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