The Honeybee Diaries
We are excited to announce that our very own honey is now available for purchase!
The raw honey is the product of a beautiful partnership between our farmers at Downsview Park, and Mystic Sister Apiaries. Sustainable urban beekeeper and founder of Mystic Sister Apiaries Saidy Corneglio will be sharing the journey of the honeybees and detailing their everyday at the farm.
If you're as interested in these amazing creatures as we are, read on!
On a cool May evening, 4 honeybee hives were prepared for their imminent journey: moving across Toronto to Fresh City Farms. Once the bees had all returned to their hives for the night, entrances were sealed and hive boxes were carefully and firmly strapped together. Sealing the bees safely inside their hives ensures that no bees would be left behind during their sunrise sojourn.
As the sun rose the following morning, I gingerly lifted and loaded the hives into the back of the pick-up and we set off towards the farm. Upon arrival, the hives were unwrapped, unstrapped, and settled into their new home overlooking Fresh City Farm’s two acres of urban, organic farmland: an ideal location for bees.
Honeybees are social insects, living in colonies whose populations are in the tens of thousands. Honeybee society is divided into three distinct members: the Queen, the Workers and the Drones.
• The Queen: A single Queen rules each hive, and she is the mother of every other bee in the colony. Queen bees act as the reproductive organ of the hive, laying up to 2,000 eggs per day in the height of the summer.
• The Workers: The vast majority of the colony’s population are female worker bees. They share responsibility for most of the work needed to keep their hive healthy and strong. This includes: rearing the brood, foraging for nectar and pollen, guarding hive entrances, removing the dead or unwanted guests, storing honey, creating beeswax and knitting it into perfectly hexagonal combs. The workers also feed and care for the Queen and the Drones.
• The Drones: Male honeybees make up a very small percentage of the colony. Their primary task is to mate with virgin Queens from nearby hives, thus spreading the genetic material of their own hive. Drones assist with keeping the brood warm in the nest of the hive. Drones also relay information to the hive from the greater landscape, as they are the only type of honeybee allowed to enter any hive they please.
Bee populations are in decline, with many native species on the brink of extinction. This is primarily due to systemic pesticide exposure, genetically modified crops, dwindling habitat, and an unpredictable climate.
Bees are a keystone species: 30% of our food crops and a significant portion of food for wildlife is dependent on the pollination services of bees. This fact alone has serious implications for our future on this planet. If you want to help the bees, consider: supporting organic farmers, planting native wildflowers to provide habitat and forage, and saying “no” to pesticides!
A few things you may not know about honeybees:
• 1. Bees collect nectar from over 2 million flowers in order to produce one pound of honey.
• 2. Honeybees have two stomachs: one for digestion and another for storing nectar they gather from flowers, enabling them to bring it back to their hive.
• 3. Bees communicate with each other using pheromones and intricate dances; the “waggle dance” for example, is used to demonstrate to other bees where nearby flowers are blooming.
Taste our farm honey by purchasing it here.