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This article was published 20/5/2016 (1821 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Forks is buzzing more than usual these days.
That's thanks to 20,000 bees in two hives from Beeproject Apiaries that moved there on Friday morning and will be busy making honey from their new home atop the caboose next to The Forks Market's main building.
Beeproject Apiaries owners Chris Kirouac and Lindsay Nikkel, who joked that their bee business is actually a hobby gone wild, installed two hives with about 10,000 bees and one queen bee in each. The location on the caboose was chosen because there is a clear flight path to The Forks Public Orchard, where there are 75 different fruit-bearing trees located in the vicinity of the Manitoba Children's Museum.
The hives look like wooden boxes and can be seen easily from the ground.
"This is a great spot. It's above grade so when people are walking, the bees' flight path will already be high up in the air where they can easily forage for pollen," Kirouac said, noting the elevated location will also keep the bees safe so they are not disturbed by curious onlookers. "It's out of the way but close to the orchard and river. Being in the city is ideal for honey bees because there are fewer pesticides and predators."
It will be a mutually beneficial relationship for the bees and trees. The honey bees will help pollinate the orchard's trees and shrubs and that will help them have a larger yield of more flavourful fruits. Kirouac said the honey from The Forks hives is expected to have a unique flavour because of the variety of plants in the orchard.
Nikkel said the urban hives create opportunities to educate the public about the importance of bees and pollination as part of food security and to talk about conservation and sustainability.
And the best news is that if you mind your own beeswax, the bees won't bother you.
"Bees don't tend to just go and sting people. They'll either stay in the hive or when they're foraging, they'll dissipate into the air really well and really quickly. They're not looking for people," Nikkel said. "People will probably see them, they're looking for food but they're not looking for people's food. Bees are vegetarians, they're not carnivores. They're not like wasps, wasps will come and they're aggressive and they'll look for your food but bees won't."
Nikkel said bees generally won't land on people but if one comes near you, just stay calm, slowly walk away and avoid swatting at it.
She said the bee population in The Forks hives will grow to about 100,000 by the middle of summer and, as needed, more boxes to house the bees will be added on top of the caboose.
About 25 kilograms of honey per hive is expected to be produced, and could possibly be ready by July. The Forks will be selling the honey at its farmers' market, with proceeds supporting The Forks Foundation.
The hives at The Forks is the third urban bees project so far this spring for Kirouac and Nikkel. They have installed hives on top of the Manitoba Hydro building and the Fairmont Hotel. They have applications in with the city for permits for several other locations.
Nikkel and Kirouac inspect their hives in all locations every seven to 10 days to check on the health of the bees and any other issues.
The couple and their two children live in Winnipeg where they keep some urban bees and install hives for clients around the city. The bulk of their bees live on their farm near Gimli.
"This is the first year that it (hives in public urban installations) is officially allowed, so we're really excited to have some public projects that will showcase how it can be done with success in a safe way within the city," Kirouac said.
Honey from the Beeproject Apiaries can be purchased at retail outlets around the city which are listed at www.beeproject.ca and clicking on the "where to find us" link.