If you’re a fan of the television show The Office, you know Dwight Schrute would never use a bad apiarist (a fancy word for beekeeper). But he might turn to the likes of our own Tyrell Callioux for advice about honeybees.
And today on Earth Day, it’s good to bee aware of the importance these little pollinators have on our environment.
Tyrell, an environment and regulatory advisor at Suncor who specializes in air monitoring and regulatory compliance, specializes in beekeeping as a hobby.
“I grew up on a farm west of Edmonton, which probably sparked my interest in beekeeping but my formal training in environment management helped further my interest,” says Ty. “Bees are critical to the success of farming and agriculture and beekeeping gave me perspective on how interdependent the natural environment is, and pollinators play a key role in that delicate balance.”
“Most beekeepers will say they are absolutely fascinated by bees and I’m certainly of that opinion,” says Ty. “Bees form a little society in these tiny hives – with the queen, workers, nurseries, food storage areas. Their lives are intricate and productive, and always focused on the best interests of the hive as a multi-generational home for the colony.”
With summer approaching, gardening will be a popular hobby, especially as we may be encouraged to continue physical distancing. It’s important to know the negative impact using pesticides have on bees. Minimizing your use of pesticides, or applying pesticides when bees are not foraging in the late evenings, will lessen the impact on native and honeybee populations.
COVID-19 is also having an impact on beekeeping. Honeybees are not native to Canada, so beekeepers need to order bee packages from around the world, a challenge with commercial flights suspended.
“I’ve requested some from Fraser Valley and so far, they’re on track to arrive, but the shortage of bees due to this transportation disruption will have very significant impacts on pollination all over Canada,” says Ty.
Bees play a critical role in pollination with as much as one-third of our food production relying on this ecological service.
As a first-year beekeeper, Ty may not get to keep any of the honey produced since the bees will need everything they produce to sustain themselves in our harsh winters. A colony of bees needs about 100 pounds of honey to survive.
“After the bees have become established, I’m hoping friends and family are prepared to have a lot of tea as we start giving out the honey as gifts.”
We are thankful for these little members of our society, so this Earth Day we encourage you to practice bee-friendly behaviours to maintain nature’s balance.