(Photo by Damien TUPINIER on Unsplash)

(Photo by Damien TUPINIER on Unsplash)

Vernon-area beekeeping hobbyists helping protect the bees

Caring about the future of honeybees has become almost trendy.

Lucy Wyndham

For the Morning Star

Caring about the future of honeybees has become almost trendy.

For more than a decade, scientists and apiarists have been analyzing the disappearance or sudden death of large numbers of domesticated honeybees. This disappearance and those that have died off, now known as Colony Collapse Disorder, has been tied to everything from pesticides to genetically modified crops.

The truth is that science still does not fully understand why large numbers of bees have begun dying off across large and disparate geographic areas. Thousands of beehives have died in recent years, leaving the world’s crops vulnerable to under pollination. Thankfully, homeowners and farmers in the Vernon area have the opportunity to help stave off the decline of the honey bee. Small-scale beekeeping is a rewarding hobby and potentially lucrative business venture that can also have a positive environmental impact in Vernon and beyond.

Vernon Allows Beekeeping in Rural and Agricultural Areas

While some cities allow people in the suburbs and even on large lots within the city to raise their own bees, Vernon has relatively strict rules. Only those in a rural or agricultural zone may raise bees intentionally. That being said, there are thousands of households and properties near Vernon that could qualify and comply with local B.C. laws about beekeeping or apiculture. In fact, the government even sponsors courses that educate people interested in beekeeping about how to manage bees safely and appropriately. Taking one of these local classes is a great first step toward starting your own beehive.

More Hives Can Help Protect Crops and Biodiversity

For many decades, beekeeping was an agricultural pursuit attempted by just a few. A handful of large beekeeping companies provided the vast majority of bees for commercial farmers. The issue with these large ventures, like any monoculture, is that it generates a lot of risk for disease to spread quickly. In the case of Colony Collapse Disorder, some of the biggest producers were the earliest and the hardest hit with the loss of whole hives.

The more local people who engage in apiculture, the stronger the local bee population becomes. Not only is there a broader genetic pool of domesticated honeybees, but their locations are spread out enough to avoid the rapid spread of disease from hive to hive. In other words, it is far better for there to be a large number of beekeeping enthusiasts in the area than one massive bee supplier.

Keeping bees on a small scale is a great way to embrace biodiversity and help support local honeybee populations. Your bees will help fertilize any crops that you grow, while also providing honey, should you choose to collect it. Beekeeping can be a very rewarding hobby. For some people, apiculture can actually be a very lucrative career.

Whether you hope to keep bees on a large scale or simply have one hive to help your garden and the local bees, there are many opportunities for Vernon residents to get involved in the effort to save the bees.