beecentric apiary

What Is Sustainable Beekeeping?


      • Respect for all living things
      • Knowledge intensive vs. chemical and petrochemical intensive
      • An attempt to create a homeostatic hive (a balance between competing and complimentary elements inside and outside the hive).
      • A dynamic spiral between the beekeeper and the bees, not a final destination but a learning process
      • Based on traditional beekeeping knowledge and practice but assumes nothing is sacred.
      • Common sense.
      • Like conventional beekeeping, it follows the biology of the bee but is not an attempt to push the limits of what a bee can do or put up with. Instead, sustainable beekeeping tries to understand the needs and biological drive of honeybees and follows that.
      • Beecentric. Putting bee health and happiness at the centre of your practice
      • Bees are an integral part in human life just as humans are integral in the life of bees. We are a part of the same fabric.
      • The pool of diversity and resilience we used to be able to draw upon, that acted like a cushion to soften the harshness of our errors, has been depleted to the point where even small mistakes resonate throughout the bee population. We have less room for error and even our smallest mistakes, repeated year after year only serve to deplete pollination resources even further.
      • Build resilience through plant and insect diversity.
      • Sustainable beekeeping is an attempt at bee restoration
      • “Agriculture Collapse Disorder” Mark Winston or “Human Collapse Disorder” Queen of the Sun
      • Recognition that plants need “pollination guilds”, a team of many kinds of pollinators to get seed set. All bees, Honeybees and native bees, are needed by plants
      • Regulate the commercialization of native bees and alternative pollinators




      • Create local honeybee populations; community bee breeding, stop importing bees from the other side of the world
      • Stop transporting bees from one spot to another for pollination
      • Build bridges with those you disagree with, find common ground to create a positive common future
      • Integrate art and beauty into every aspect of life, an essential human virtue is to create, to be creative, to be and feel unique and to make a contribution to a positive future
      • Keep bees on their own wax
      • Feed bees their own honey, stop feeding them sugar on a regular basis
      • Only take the surplus, never take what they need to flourish
      • Monitor for pests and diseases.
      • Keep queens for as long as possible
      • Respect the soil. Over 80% of bee species are ground-nesting.
      • Don’t use pesticides.
      • Don’t try to kill everything in a hive.
      • Leave a toehold for even the meanest of creatures.
      • Provide soil diversity; clay soils, sandy, compacted, loose and friable, level and sloping, etc
      • Provide a source of water
      • Grow native plant species in your garden
      • Provide pollination corridors so bees can move from one great bee garden to others across harsh urban and depleted rural landscapes
      • Earning an ethical living is an integral part of sustainability

10 Things You Can Do To Help Bees

Become a beekeeper

Keeping honeybees in your backyard is a great way to help bees.  Being a beekeeper doesn’t have to be a major enterprise.  One or two hives will provide hours of fun and interest.  There are many species of bee with many different nesting needs that don’t require the time and expense of honeybees.  Put out homemade bumblebee nests in the early spring or mason bee nests, homemade or store bought, to attract these local pollinators.

Let there be weeds

Many “weeds” such as thistle and smartweed are an excellent source of pollen for bees.  Blackberry brambles not only are a food source for bees, they provide shelter.  Blackberries also offer protection to many species of songbird, food and habitat, that otherwise would be exposed to danger.  Weeds, in their proper place, make gardens and landscapes healthier and better able to handle stresses.

Plant your garden with bee friendly plants

Avoid using overly hybridized ornamentals.  Their double blooms are too difficult for insect pollinators to access and often they lack pollen.  There are many thousands of other plants to use.  On the whole, native plants attract native bees and exotic plants attract honeybees so integrating native species into the garden, while providing colour and interest, will offer support to these endangered insects.  Using a diversity of flowering types with a range of bloom times from spring to autumn supports bee populations over a long period.

Buy local honey

Support your local beekeeper by buying their honey.  Honey, given the time and effort required to raise healthy and strong bees by the beekeeper (not to mention the very hard work of the bees in making it!), is very under priced.  By buying local honey we can put more money into the pockets of our neighbourhood beekeeper where we need bees the most.

Encourage local authorities to be bee friendly

Local, regional, and provincial authorities have an important role to play in conserving pollinator populations.  Get involved and express your concern about bees and the environment.  Let’s change bylaws to allow backyard beekeeping.

Cut out pesticides

Bees of all kinds are vulnerable to pesticide and herbicide poisoning.  Aside from destroying or contaminating forage for bees pesticides kill them outright.

And if they survive exposure the adult bees bring back the poison to their young.  Chemicals also accumulate in bee’s wax reducing the health of the colony.  Let’s say NO to ornamental pesticide use.

Help to protect swarms

Swarms are the means by which honeybee colonies reproduce.  A queen leaves the hive with a retinue of worker bees to seek a new nest.  While scouts search the neighbourhood for a suitable place the swarm will hang in a ball keeping the queen warm and safe.  Without a nest to protect swarms are actually very safe even though they look scary.  They have no interest in people and only want to find a new home.  Give your local beekeepers’ club a call to collect the swarm.

Learn more about these fascinating creatures

Bees are fascinating insects.  Their behaviour and the niches they fill in nature make them endlessly interesting and surprising animals to study.  Join a beekeepers club to hear about the latest news or just take the time in your garden to watch them buzzing about.

Advocate for smart growth

Most often developers and city planners, locally and regionally, have no clue about the foraging and habitat needs of native bees and honeybees.  Educate them, be an advocate for bees, help ensure that growth is sustainable and of benefit to all.

Say YES to bees

Most important of all say YES to bees; bees in your garden, in your community, and bees in the world.  Bees are all about abundance.  The natural world as we know it would not be possible without them.  Bees provide over 75% of every kind of food we eat through pollination.  And they do this without charging us or asking anything in return.  The least we can do is to provide a space for them in our gardens.

How Wasps Can Hurt A Bee Colony

In the late summer and early Fall months both honey bee and wasp populations are at a peak and starting to be reduced. At the same time nectar sources are reduced. Consequently, yellow jackets and honey bees compete for resources. Yellow jackets rob resources from bee colonies and are even known to predate adult bees. During dryer and hotter summers when there is an even bigger shortage of resources there is even more competition. This can result in sustained predatory pressure and can be very problematic for weak bee colonies.

Yellow jacket populations sizes relate closely to weather patterns. If spring is warm and dry yellow jacket wasp queens will be successful and produce many offspring that will grow in strong populations in late summer.

If yellow jacket pressure is high and negatively impacting a honey bee colony then wasp control methods should be undertaken to prevent an increase in yellow jacket wasp populations. Any attempt to reduce yellow jacket populations should be welcomed. Such wasp removal methods can include trapping yellow jackets or using insecticides to kill or suppress a colony. When faced with a wasp problem it is best to work with a licensed exterminator who has the training to not only kill a wasp colony but also to prevent any negative impacts on a beneficial bee colony that can be near by.

Locating and Exterminating Wasp Colonies
We work closely with professional wasp exterminators for a variety of reasons. First reason is safety, as yellow jacket stings can be painful. Second reason is the licensing required to apply insecticides in Ontario. We work closely with wasp nest removal specialists – exterminators. Their professional approach guarantees that not only a wasp nest is destroyed but also done in a way that will not impact bee colonies near by.

Yellow Jacket Wasps Vs Bees

The difference between a wasp vs. bee is very important to know and will help you decide what role that insect plays in your environment and whether or not you are at risk for a bee sting. Although both wasps and bees share many similarities, there are actually several key differences. At the end of the article I have included my top four reasons that a wasp sting is different from a bee sting.

First, the appearance of the insect itself. Wasps and Bees are closely associated, so when you see a wasp on your arm or on your body, it may seem very similar to a bee. But there are several obvious differences, such as the size of the insects and their color patterns. A wasp, for example, has a long tail that can be anywhere from six to nine inches long. A bee has no long tail and its abdomen is very small – only three to four inches long.

Another important difference is how the insects feed. Bees fly out of the flowers they feed from and sting at the insects they are unable to reach. Wasps, on the other hand, eat mostly plants and can be found anywhere there are flowers. They are more likely to sting out at an animal or person, as opposed to flowers and fruits. So next time you are stung by a wasp, try comparing the appearance of the insect to a bee and you will find out that it is a completely different creature.