Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The secret life of bees

Written yesterday, Oct 3rd:

Went out for lunch with my friend Monique that I met at the yoga workshop and then again for kim chi on Sunday. We had a raw vegan lunch at a place called Live Organics. We sampled all of the raw dishes over a great long conversation about food, farms, love, and bees. Afterward we rode our bikes over the Don Valley and through Riverdale Park to the Riverdale Farmer’s Market, where Monique knew a lot of the farmers from the Dufferin Grove Market. I found another local organic chocolate store! Got some great free samples of food and bought some local pears. Monique introduced me to everyone - it was a beautiful day for friendly farmers!

After riding to Monique’s apartment where she let me sample five different types of honey, we rode over to where the Toronto Urban Beekeeper’s Coop currently meets – along with Food Share - an abandoned warehouse on the East side of town. Unfortunately both groups have to move out as it’s being torn down to be a new condo development (condos are being put up ALL over the place!). There are about 20 people in the coop who all work to take care of the bees and harvest the honey. They then share the honey – today’s share was 13 pounds! Over the whole season they harvested 1500 pounds of honey.

The bees will likely be moved next weekend to someone's property north of Toronto. Currently they’re outside in 20 wooden hives in the back of the building – check out my pics! Today’s coop meeting was for the purpose of cleaning up some of the hives after their big harvest a week or so ago. I joined in the fun and started scraping empty crates free of beeswax, honey and propolis. (Eating excess honey along the way). They had some good food and snacks, in addition to the vitamin B-packed honey, so we didn’t need dinner. Monique is actually on a detox this week (which means we won’t be going out partying unless she gives it up for a day!), and honey is always an important part of her diet – detox or not. The Coop has been around for 6 years or so, but things are a little up in the air now that the bees have to be moved. The City of Toronto doesn't want the liability of keeping bees for beekeeping in the city, though they did seem interested in supporting the project at first. A recent meeting at City Hall left the coop feeling rejected however, and they may just have to resort to guerilla rooftop beekeeping like that in NYC (

Monique took me out to meet the bees – I put on the face mask but no other protection – whereas others walked in there with no protection. I was a little nervous but it really wasn’t bad! The bees were all around us as they were returning home for the night – it was close to sundown – one landed on my camera as I was holding it out and I got to examine her (all the bees out getting honey are female) – so fuzzy and cute! I took a few videos and pics!

At the end of the cleanup session Monique had two containers of honey, about 20 pounds in total, to carry home on her bike. Again, check out the pics!

Today was such a great day: I’ve learned so much about beekeeping today and nourished myself with great raw food and made a new friend in Toronto! : )

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