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LISTEN: Dancing In the Dark: The Intelligence of Bees (54min)

Bees are remarkable among insects. They can count, remember human faces, and communicate through dance routines performed entirely in the dark. But are they intelligent? Even creative? Bee aficionado Stephen Humphrey, along with a hive of leading bee researchers and scientists, investigates the mental lives of bees.

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[via CBC Radio-Canada]

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WATCH: Bold beekeepers buck city bylaw

While not allowed in the city, beekeeping is flourishing in Edmonton. The CBC’s Kim Trynacity looks at how the hobby thrives through secret hives and honey bribes.


PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION TO LEGALIZE URBAN BEEKEEPING IN LOS ANGELES!!
change.org/petitions/legalize-urban-beekeeping-in-los-angeles-2 

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ARTICLE: Pitt Meadows allows urban beekeeping (BC, Canada)

Bees can now buzz freely within Pitt Meadows city limits.

Council gave third reading Tuesday to a bylaw that permits apiaries, or hives, in its urban area. 
The new bylaw proposes limiting the number of colonies to two for lots less than 1,000 sq. metres and four colonies for lots greater than 1,000 sq. metres.

Hive owners must also have a 1.8-metre hedge around any property containing beehives or provide adequate setbacks between the hives and adjacent properties. Owners will also have to ensure there is adequate water to prevent bees from flying over a fence for a drink in neighbour’s swimming pool.

As per provincial legislation, all beehive owners will have to register with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

[click here to view the original article on mapleridgenews.com]

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WHO: Kirk Anderson
WHAT: Hive Mentality Project
WHEN: March 16th, 2012
WHERE: Calgary, Alberta CANADA

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Alexis Kienlen: The birds and the bees

“It’s strange that we continue to vilify an insect that is so important to us. The negative attitude against bees can be seen when people start discussing urban beekeeping. Many cities, including the city of Edmonton, have not legalized urban beekeeping. This is a pretty sad, since urban bees add to food security and biodiversity within a city. People who argue against urban beekeeping say that it is a danger to people, because of the risk of death from bee stings. In fact, the proportion of people who are allergic to bee stings is quite small. Only about .4 per cent of the American population is allergic to bee stings. According to Statistics Canada, 22 people died from bee stings in Canada between 2000 and 2006. More people die each year from falling down stairs. Most bees will only sting if they are endangered, and most of the time, people are stung by wasps.

The lack of knowledge about bees and the role they play in pollination has hindered the urban beekeeping movement. I know a man who kept a hive of bees in his yard even though it wasn’t legal in Edmonton. He contacted his neighbours and told them he would be keeping a hive on his property. His neighbours told him they were fine with this. Then one day, an animal services officer showed up at his place and told him there had been a complaint. One of his neighbours had found out keeping bees in Edmonton was illegal, and she had reported him. The beekeeper had to remove his bees from the city or risk a $500 a day fine. He later found out which neighbour had reported him and asked her if his bees had been bothering her. She told him, with complete seriousness, “Well, they were all over my garden and were buzzing around my flowers.”

I wish people would realize the importance of the bee’s work, and work to preserve these fascinating creatures. People often talk about endangered tigers, polar bears or sharks, yet they don’t seem to think about what they can do to preserve the honeybee, a creature that has a more direct impact on the average human life than a tiger or a polar bear.

In my perfect world, urban beekeeping would be legal in all cities. Beekeeping would be as common as gardening and people would relax in their yards, drink a cup of tea sweetened with a spoonful of honey, and sit and watch their bees.”

[click here to read the original article on arts.nationalpost.com]

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Learning to Love the Swarm

Victim of disease and pests, the threatened bee finds a new caretaker in Vancouver’s young and eco-savvy.

“It’s easier than owning a dog,” says Alaina Thebault, East Van gardener and coordinator for the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA). “But more work than a cat.”

Thebault’s not talking about pet iguanas or even backyard chickens. The next darling of urban agriculture junkies seems to be, well, bees.

“You grow up your whole life being afraid of insects that sting you. I don’t recall ever being stung as a child, but it was always something I was afraid of,” she says. But beginning this year, Thebault’s relationship with the world’s leading pollinators took on a whole new dimension.

“I caught my first swarm back in May,” she explains. “I was at my parent’s house in Chilliwack and my dad found this swarm in the yard.” Faced with a buzzing mass of insects orbiting a queen, Thebault had her first up-close-and-personal encounter with a wild bee colony.

“I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ I had no idea what to do.”

Coached by an experienced colleague over the phone, Thebault took charge of the rogue swarm. “She told me to grab a box and put a little bit of sugar in it. She said, ‘Just be calm.’ I didn’t have anything — no veil, no gloves — I just grabbed this branch, and it was surrounded in this big football of bees.”

While her parents observed in a mild state of shock, Thebault says in that moment she knew she wanted to look after a hive of her own.

“I was like, ‘I’m hooked.’ You know, these things are really special.”

Not many can claim to have maneuvered thousands of live bees with their bare hands. In fact, most people — including Thebault’s own family — would gladly call it crazy. But a little bit of learning has pushed Thebault and dozens more young people like her to think about bees in a new light.

“You might not know this, but bees are incredibly docile when they swarm,” she explains. “They eat as much honey as they can before they leave the hive. They basically gorge themselves, and so they’re incredibly lethargic and harmless.”

For the record, Thebault was not stung once during this entire episode. “Once they swarm, they don’t have any space to protect so they’re not as defensive either,” she adds. “So they’re very easy to work with.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Thebault. The more she researched the importance of bees in B.C.’s ecosystems and the threat of colony collapse, the more she wanted to bring the tiny creatures into her own backyard…

Beekeeping: not just for ‘geezers’

In stark contrast to big-time commercial apiaries, urban beekeepers often maintain low-impact organic hives near community gardens. With ecology rather than profit in mind, young people in the city have taken beekeeping into their own hands…

“The commercial industry is still dominated by older farmers but I’ve seen a lot of interest in urban hives,” she adds. Taught at the Means of Production garden in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, McKenna’s classes — attended predominantly by 20-something women — show students how to avoid pesticides and antibiotics and employ more sustainable practices.

Garr says he, too, has noticed youth interest in beekeeping grow. “It was geezers mostly,” he jokes about beekeepers’ association meetings in the past. He says attendance at beekeeping functions has jumped to nearly 100 from around 10 in the last couple years. “People are into it now, which was not the case five or eight years ago”…

[click here to read the full article on thetyee.ca]

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