Bee season

A bumblebee can’t seem to get enough of the flowers on a marigold plant.

(Goodwin photo)

Bees keep busy this time of year.

And it appears more people are appreciating the work they do and their value to the economy and ecology in communities and virtually throughout the world.

Marie Lennox, who gardens where she lives on Lovat Road and manages West River Greenhouses, finds bee activity fascinating.

“It’s one of those things – you could sit and watch them all day,” she said. “They just do their thing. I’ve seen probably 10 different varieties of bees.”

Lennox said she has noticed plenty of evidence of how active bees are this year, as well as the number and variety of them.

“I have definitely seen quite a bit of activity this season, compared to the last couple of years,” she said.

“There is more activity. They’re always around the greenhouses.”

She said more bees would normally be seen but the decision was made not to grow annuals for sale this year, which reduced the sources for pollination.

“There was still more activity,” she said. “We have perennials attracting them.”

What Lennox especially appreciates is how people are learning more about bees and providing a safer environment for them.

“I think there’s more awareness,” she said. “There are not as many chemicals (being used). We notice people are looking for pollinators (plants) for the bees.”

Certain plants appeal more than others to bees, she said.

“They really love St. John’s wort,” she said. “You can’t hear anything else but the bees. They’re intermingling and not worried about one another.”

Don Butler, who has a nursery in Ardness where he lives, says he’s aware of bees’ value despite not being infatuated by them.

“I have a great appreciation for the vital work they do,” he said. “Any decline in their population would impact food production here and everywhere – for example, blueberry growers in the spring. Without them they would have very poor crops.”

David and Sarah Cameron operate a honeybee business called Sunny Cove Honey with 130 hives in Little Harbour.

“It has been a funny year,” David said. “At one time it looked like a bad year and now it looks as if it will be a good year.”

Sarah owns the business while David does most of the field work.

“I enjoy it – that’s why I keep at it,” he said.

He described challenges that include weather conditions, nourishing the bees to get them more active in the spring and keeping them healthy. They are especially wary of a tiny but deadly insect called the Varroa mite.

“The big hurdle is to get the bees up to strength,” he said. “We give them a pollen substitute and sugar syrup in the spring.”

Bob Bancroft, a naturist with a background in biology who lives in Bayfield, Antigonish Co., says climate and weather conditions have a bearing on bees’ ability to be productive and safe.

“The hot weather would be a challenge in some (bees’) nests,” he said. “They need to maintain temperature levels there. But the interspersion of sun and rain has made for a great season for plant growth and their blooming. I suspect that bumblebees and others have prospered.”

Reporter

Steve Goodwin is never without his camera and a notebook. He has been covering news and sports in Pictou County for more than four decades.