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Busy as bees

Honeybee hives installed at Grenfell encourage amateur beekeeping

Campus and Community

By Melanie Callahan

Some new residents have moved into Grenfell Campus this summer: a queen honey bee and her worker bees.

Randy Skinner, laboratory instructor with the environmental science program, is working to share his love of beekeeping with the Grenfell community.

Randy Skinner, right, establishes some bee hives. Here he passes a column to Dr. Marc Thackeray.
Randy Skinner, right, establishes some bee hives. Here, he passes a column to Dr. Marc Thackeray.
Photo: Melanie Callahan

For the past number of years, Mr. Skinner has kept a beehive at his house in York Harbour.

He has been working to build a bee population that is plentiful enough to allow for splitting the population.

Co-operative beekeeping

This week, Mr. Skinner brought a queen bee to campus.

He has initiated a co-operative arrangement for the beehives on campus. He’s provided the hives and boxes, and together participants will share the cost of the queen bees.

“The flavour of the honey depends on the type of wildflowers that are in bloom at the time that the honey is harvested.” — Randy Skinner

Mr. Skinner says this first year of bees on campus will be a “a growing year.”

“We will establish a queen who will lay up to 1,200 eggs at a time. There will be 20,000 bees in the hive this summer. But it will be another year before honey or wax is available for harvest. By the end of the second year, there could be upwards of 60,000 bees in the hive resulting in 10-20 pounds of honey or wax next year, and each year following.

“The flavour of the honey depends on the type of wildflowers that are in bloom at the time that the honey is harvested,” Mr. Skinner continued. “Honey from a clover pollination tastes very different than honey extracted during the time dandelions are in bloom.”

Faculty and staff are invited to be involved, and student involvement is most certainly welcome, says Mr. Skinner. Currently, faculty members representing diverse programs at the university have expressed interest.

Quiet spot

Mr. Skinner has spent some time looking around campus to determine the most appropriate place for the beehive boxes.

The hives will be located at the rear of the grassy area of Grenfell’s residence complex.

“I’ve been looking for a place that is off the beaten path; something that you wouldn’t just stumble upon,” said Mr. Skinner, who has only been stung a few times in his beekeeping career.

“It is the safest for the people on campus and it’s good for the bees. The bees will need somewhere that we can easily access and is sheltered from the wind.”

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