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We built a bee vacuum, pictured here, so in the right situation we can vacuum up the bees in search of the queen. If we get the queen, the rest of the colony will follow and we can contain them all and transport them to one of our hives. This is chemical free, non-lethal removal which allows the colony to survive long term and protects the species as a whole. This is a great way to contribute to the global conservation of honeybees - insects we all need to be healthy!!
There are about 400 species of bee native to Ontario, though the honeybee is not included. There are no honeybees native to North America, they have all been brought here from Europe or other parts of the world. Most beekeepers in Canada rear some sort of European honeybee, ourselves included – we have bees from Italy and Austria. We are likely the only exterminators who also keep bees…we’ll never claim to ‘bee’ normal, but I digress. All native bees, along with the introduced honeybees, are beneficial pollinators and have fuzz or hair. The native species tend to pollinate one particular plant which they evolved with. For example squash bees pollinate only, you guessed it, squash plants. Honeybees were introduced because they are much broader in their nectar sourcing and thus pollinate many different kinds of plants.
Native bees live either live in colonies or are solitary species. Often solitary species will nest very close to other individuals though, making it appear that they are actually a colony. Native bees will typically nest close to their nectar source, so are commonly found near gardens or fields.
Bee health is of vital importance with the prevalence of colony collapse disorder and its multiple causes. The ecological service provided by honeybees and other pollinators is unparalleled by human means and preserving beneficial species’ is a responsibility we all share. Minimizing pesticides and agricultural chemicals is a huge step, but backyard beekeepers and gardeners can go a long way. Make sure the plants you purchase are not genetically modified and do not contain neonicotinoids…yes, there are plants sold as pollinator plants with harmful chemicals embedded right into the plant material. If you want some help with what to plant, email us for a list of pollinator plants along with bloom times and native plants.
Honeybee colonies swarm when their population gets too large for their home. The queen will lay eggs and then leave the colony in search of a new home, bringing approximately half the colony with her. The bees that remain in the hive have the ability to create a new queen out of one of the eggs left behind and this results in a split of the colony. This is when we tend to get honeybees in our buildings. Some people think this is great and leave the colony to thrive on its own, but often this creates more problems down the line. The honey accumulation will attract other insects such as wasps and other bee species, or even nuisance mammals such as raccoons, and in rare scenarios, bears! The colony either dies off in the winter if there is not enough heat, or thrives for years until the population becomes too large for the homeowner to handle - people tend to get annoyed when their walls buzz all summer...it's happened! Most pest control providers refuse to exterminate honeybees, which is excellent, but they'll id them, bill you for the visit and leave without helping. Not us!