Photo C/O Humblebee Instagram
Everywhere you look, you can see organizations and campaigns built around saving the bees. At the same time, sustainable, local beekeeping is gaining interest. This past Oscars season, the 2019 Macedonian documentary Honeyland was nominated for two awards. The film follows Hatidže Muratova, a wild beekeeper and her symbiotic relationship with her bees. She cares for them, never taking more from them than she needs. However, you don’t need to go to Macedonia to find sustainable beekeeping—we have some right here on campus.
Two years ago, Silhouette contributor Hess Salhollbey wrote about Humble Bee, Hamilton’s very own urban beekeeping company. Humble Bee is co-owned by Dan Douma and Luc Peters. At the time, Douma mentioned that Humble Bee hoped to set up future apiaries on campus. Fast forward to now, Humble Bee is gearing up to sell honey made by bees right here on campus.
“The project is currently underway and there’s actually bees on McMaster property right now. And very soon there will be honey available in the student centre,” said Peters.
The honey will be available to buy at La Piazza and Mac Farm Stand, with all of the funds going to support the McMaster Community Bee Project.
Peters and Douma are also planning to run information sessions for students about beekeeping. For the past few years, they’ve been holding introductory beekeeping classes at The Cotton Factory (270 Sherman Ave. N.), and they are hoping to bring their knowledge to students. Sustainable, small-scale beekeeping is key to keeping bees happy and healthy. It allows the beekeeper to be in tune with the needs of their bees.
“[I]f done correctly, I think all farming should be on [a] smaller scale … I’ve always been a fan of organic farming and working more harmoniously with nature. Everything humans do ha[s] an impact, and all the bad situations that we’re in now are pretty much human caused. So I think finding more harmony in farming with nature is what I always hope for and always look to,” said Peters.
Buying locally-made honey is also more sustainable for the environment, because it hasn’t been shipped from other countries or provinces. Additionally, Humble Bee also sells beeswax candles, so that the excess wax taken from the honeycomb doesn’t go to waste.
Part of the appeal of urban beekeeping is that it gives people a connection to nature that is lacking in everyday city life. Because beekeepers always need to be aware of any potential threats to their bees, like pesticides or chemicals, beekeepers become more aware of the bees’ environment and the way that they live.
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Missing the bees today. Looking forward to the days getting longer! To celebrate that and the bees come to the Winter Solstice Bee Ball! Drink the best meads and dance the night away. December 21st at @lagershed. 7pm-1am. Ticket link is in bio! 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 #HamONT #BurlON #dundasont #Ontario #DiscoverON #wintersolsticebeeball #hamontevents #topbarbeekeeping #rooftopbeekeeping #hamonthoney #humblebee #dundasforever #urbanbeekeeping #bees #queenbee #ontariomead #hamontmead #ontariohoney #wintersolstice
“[I]t’s a lovely time, sometimes, when you’re out there working with the bees. You feel connected with this super organism that you’re working with, and it’s being this reflection of the environment that it’s in. And so you can really get connected with your surrounding environment when you’re working with bees. And that’s some of the magic, I think, of keeping bees that people get really attracted to after trying it out,” said Peters.
If urban beekeeping isn’t for you, there are other ways that you can help to support the bees. If you have the space, planting a pollinator garden free of pesticides can help bees survive and thrive. Buying honey from local beekeepers like Humble Bee helps to support sustainable models of beekeeping, rather than supporting larger corporations that may not treat their bees as well. After all, soon enough you’ll be able to buy honey made right here on campus, so there’s no reason not to give it a try.