Follow the LOLA Bees Journey:
Chapter 1: LOLA Bees Introduction
Have you heard the buzz about LOLA Bees?
Introducing London Ontario Little Apiary (LOLA) Bees - a natural beekeeping project by On The Move Organics!
Budding beekeepers Ellie, Jeff and Marianne are working together with four honey bee colonies across the street from On The Move headquarters in the Old East Village to learn about sustainable urban apiculture, and how to support city pollinators. In true OTMO spirit, we’re also using this opportunity to collaborate with local artists, other small-scale beekeepers, and our broader community!
We hear a lot about how pollinators (insects, birds, bats) are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem, and that pollinators all over the world are under threat from declining habitat and increased use of pesticides. When you consider that pollination brings us one in every three bites of food we eat, it’s easy to see that supporting pollinators means supporting a resilient local food system.
Over the coming weeks we’ll share more about our LOLA Bees journey, including delving into the principles of natural beekeeping, exploring the story of the art on those hives (!), a running tally of our bee stings (so far - just 1!), and a survey of all the good work already done in London & Southwestern Ontario to support pollinators.
Follow along with us: #LOLAbees #NaturalBeekeeping #SupportPollinators #KnowYourBeekeeper #OntarioHoney
Chapter 2: Buzzin’ About New Logo
We are really excited about our LOLA Bees design! Swipe to see the incredible art drawn by our friend and long-time supporter, artist @natmoynagh. Our in-house design whiz, Steve, melded Nat's artwork with a little On The Move logo magic, and voila :) LOLA Bees patches printed by @rezonanceprinting dropping in the next little while. Hooray for bees and art collabs!
Our two-month beekeeping update is coming your way next week - stay tuned to hear about our first eight weeks with these lovely ladies
Bee art in our logo by the amazing @natmoynagh - see more of her work on Instagram and at https://natmoynagh.wixsite.com/natmoynagh/paintings.
Want to see more of Nat’s work? Check out her website, and plan a visit to @rootcellarldn this winter to see her exhibit natmoynagh.wixsite.com/natmoynagh
Chapter 3: Two-Month Hive Check-In
LOLA Bees Hive Check-in: 2 months:
Whew, the past two months have flown by! Our industrious LOLA Bee gals have settled into their new homes at the London Ontario Little Apiary, and are busy building up comb and stashing away pollen and nectar. Ellie, Marianne and Jeff have likewise been busy suiting up every two weeks or so to study the secret life of bees and Googling such things as “WHY CAN’T I FIND THE QUEEN?”, “CAN YOU EAT NECTAR”, “HELP BEESTING INSIDE EAR”, etc.
Basically, our conclusion so far is that a) bees are endlessly fascinating, b) most folks really love bees, and c) everyone should have an opportunity to learn about bees. And also d) yes, getting stung inside the ear is not fun. Lesson learned about suiting up properly!
Challenges of the past two months:
- An unexpected herbicide spray close to the beehives. Thanks to our neighbour Jo for alerting us, we were able to follow up with the land owner immediately (who wasn’t aware of the spray), and confirm that no further chemicals would be used on the land. Hooray for supportive hive hosts! Also thanks to beekeeper Chuck from @wildflowershoney for putting our minds at ease when we sent him an SOS text message asking if all our bees were going to die (the answer, in short, was no). .
- Trying to figure out what’s going on inside the hives every time we open them up. This is the perennial challenge of beekeeping, and it’s one that we’re excited about each time we suit up! Will we find the queen? Will we see eggs (they’re SUPER tiny and hard to see)? Will we need to intervene in some way (usually, no, sometimes, yes!). .
Beekeeping highlights in the comments!
#LOLAbees #NaturalBeekeeping #SupportPollinators #KnowYourBeekeeper #OntarioHoney
Chapter 4: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The More Good
LOLA Bees Hive Update!
Check out this honey buffet! Honey bees get their carbohydrates from nectar and honey, and their protein from pollen. They also, as you can see, have impeccable table manners.
We're continuing to learn tons from our hives at the London Ontario Little Apiary! In the past month:
THE GOOD: We (accidentally) harvested our first jar of honey, off just one frame! And let us tell you - it is DELICIOUS. Thanks bees.
THE BAD: We confirmed a laying worker situation in one of the hives! In short, this occurs when a queen dies and is not replaced (if a queen dies when there are still eggs present in the hive, the bees can raise a new queen. If there are no eggs present, then the hive will remain queenless, and normally-sterile young worker bees can begin laying unfertilized eggs. This ultimately will lead to the death of the entire hive, as only drones will hatch from unfertilized eggs). To save the hive, we've carefully united the hive with another strong hive, and we'll be checking in on them this week.
THE UGLY: We had a brood box (the deep box at the bottom of the stack, where the queen and baby bees hang out) literally fall apart as we were inspecting frames! Shout out to @dropdeadalice for helping us duct tape it together & providing moral support. We've since carefully repaired the box and noted the importance of nailing equipment together securely.
AND MORE GOOD: We continue to be amazed by bees. They are gentle, highly organized and fascinating creatures, and we have so much to learn from them. We are starting to map out where our beekeeping journey will take us next year, and we have some exciting plans to share soon
#LOLAbees #NaturalBeekeeping #LayingWorker #OntarioBeekeeping #FoundationlessFrames #HoneyBees
Chapter 5: The Honey Harvest Low-Down!
It's hard to believe we're already into September, and our fourth month of tending bees! For more established apiaries, September means HONEY HARVEST TIME! For us newbies (newbees, if you will) at LOLA Bees, we're not anticipating a honey harvest this year. Why? Our colonies are brand new and still relatively small, and they'll need almost all the honey they've stored this season to get through the winter (...because bees eat honey!). In some large-scale conventional honey-production apiaries, a common practice is to extract all the honey from a hive and then feed the bees’ sugar syrup, which is much cheaper than leaving honey on the hive. Sugar syrup may be cheaper (and sometimes it's an important tool for boosting a weak hive when there isn't a nectar flow), but it's also nutritionally deficient compared to honey, potentially weakening the colony and increasing its susceptibility to pests and disease. Many small-scale beekeeping operations respect the bees' needs, and never take more honey than the colonies can spare. Another reason to do your research and support local beekeepers!
So! At LOLA Bees, we look forward to NEXT September when (fingers crossed) our strong, established hives will produce lots of excess honey for us sweet-toothed humans to enjoy
#LOLABees #KnowYourBeekeeper #NaturalBeekeeping #OntarioHoney #OEV