The Langara College Apiary
Langara College established a small apiary in May of 2014, situated in a lovely spot next to the Langara Community Garden. To discourage people from walking directly up to the hives, they are surrounded by beds of plants that were donated, in part, by the college’s Biology Club. The plants will eventually grow tall enough to form a hedge.
There were three main reasons to bring honey bees to campus: educational, environmental, and the sheer joy of watching honey bees at work. From an educational point of view, the workings of honey-bee societies illustrate important biological concepts such as the origin and organization of social behaviour, foraging strategies, and interactions with flowering plants and other organisms. Honey bees are also simply fascinating. Whenever I work at the colonies, someone is sure to come by and ask questions. In the future, groups of students will be taken on interior tours of the hives, and the bees may be used for small research projects.
Establishing an apiary has also been an opportunity for Langara College to help counteract the serious decline of pollinating insects. Loss of natural habitat has caused a decline of native pollinator species, and the introduction of parasitic mites and the emergence of colony-collapse disorder have caused huge losses of honey-bee colonies. As part of their goal to help make Vancouver one of the world’s most sustainable cities, the City Council encourages beekeeping in urban areas: “Urban beekeeping is an excellent way to improve pollination for plants in backyard, community, and public gardens, which leads to better vegetable production.” The apiary could be considered an extension of the city’s ‘pollinator trail,’ a project that provides a swath of forage and nest sites for bees that runs through central Vancouver.