New residents at Royal Roads University have people buzzing with excitement.
The university has welcomed honey bees to campus with the launch of an apiary next to the Hatley Park Rose Garden on Dunsmuir tennis courts.
They will be spending four seasons in their home to see if they can do well on campus.
Alanna Morbin, a Royal Roads University graduate and local beekeeper, owns the hive and takes care of the bees.
The hive was brought to its new home at the end of the summer.
Morbin said having the beehive on site is a pilot project, which started as a conversation with the head gardener at Royal Roads a number of years ago. She said the hive would be an educational opportunity at Royal Roads and a chance for bees to pollinate the nearby gardens as well.
“The thing about educational honey bee hives is they’re great ambassadors for our connection between nature and urban environments,” Morbin said.
With growing concern about honey bee populations, Morbin said the advantage of having them is the exposure for the university campus and for the public that are viewing the gardens. Having the hive is a great opportunity to learn about the species and the human relationship to them.
She said there is potential for the hive to be the centre of educational sessions and raising awareness as well.
Donning a white beekeeping jacket and carrying her own tools, Morbin checks in with the hive, their activity, general health and food stores – often supplementing food if necessary by using sugar syrup and pollen patties. She ensures they are well-fed, populating and are free of varroa mites – a type of mite that has the potential to wipe out bee colonies.
“A lot about farming bees, because they’re livestock, is to manage their health,” Morbin said. “A lot of losses with bee hives occur over the winter because they’re weak or their immune systems are low.”
Having the apiary on campus is also part of Royal Roads University’s sustainability initiatives as it does its part in building the bee population on the grounds.
For Morbin, it’s also a chance to talk to others about bees.
“It’s easy to have a conversation around a beehive,” Morbin said. “It makes people a little more comfortable with honey bees which also makes them comfortable with other species like bumble bees and orchard mason bees. There’s a lot more happening around us than we notice.”