Ottawa beekeeping taking off with sold-out courses and hive rentals
In an effort to help save honeybees locals are renting hives and learning more about the pollinating creatures.
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Expect to hear more buzzing in Ottawa this summer – interest in bees growing so fast that educational programs have sold out across the city.
Marianne and Matt Gee of Gee’s Bees said their “Host a Hive” program, started last summer, has been so popular they’re already almost at max capacity.
“People are now more aware of the problems facing the honey bee population and they want to help,” she said. “In our business, instead of seeing one farmer with 10,000 hives we want to see 10,000 people with one bee hive.”
The program involves renting out small hives to suburban and rural households and businesses across Ottawa.
The Gees take care of the harvesting, but renters get to see the process and the honey from their own backyards, which also sweetens the deal.
The Gees started down the apiary path seven years ago when they brought a house in Dubrobin and unknowingly inherited thousands of tiny tenants: a large colony of bees inside the structure.
The Gees had to move the bees themselves, since exterminators were using pesticides to kill them and they were concerned about declining populations across the province.
Gee’s Bees also harvests and sells their own honey and performs bee removals.
The Gees aren’t the only ones offering bee education to Ottawa residents.
Algonquin College offers a general interest course called “The Urban Beekeeper” and Ron St. Louis and Corrie Rabbe of Radical Homestead offer an introductory beekeeping program at the Just Food Farm. Their program quickly sold out for 2016.
St. Louis said the age of people taking the course ranges from a woman in her early twenties to an 83-year-old man taking the course with his grandson.
“Beekeeping is one of the most fascinating hobbies or careers out there,” he said.