Each one of the cardboard tubes in the back of Barry Clark’s truck contain about ten of thousand bees each. All from New Zealand, they arrived in Prince George, where they were picked up by beekeepers from all across the region. Beekeeping is gaining in popularity, as people begin to realize the vital pollinators are in peril. Some communities have regulations about when and where bee hives may be located in city limits. According to the Ontario Bee Act, a hive in Toronto has to be 30 meters away from the road and in Quebec, it’s 15 meters. But, in Prince George, common sense prevails.
“I don’t believe that Prince George has any regulations or bylaws at this point in time for bee hives in the city, unlike chickens,” says Barry Clark of the BC Beekeepers Association with a smile. “But, a lot of thought has to go into to where you’re going to locate a bee hive. You have to consider your neighbours, you have to consider if you’re right next to a school ground or a park where there’s a lot of people coming and going.”
He says bees are only interested in locating nectar, not humans unless that human is pestering the hive. Nonetheless, if there are bees and kids in the same place, the chance of a collision is pretty good.
Clark says the other thing that sets this city apart from larger urban centres is the presence of bears. While it’s not regulated, it may be wise to put up an electric fence around the hives.
“Our local bears don’t don’t know what a beehive is. Until they get into the hive. But they do know what bees are. They hunt wasps and ants and they dig up ant hills for the food value, right? So a bear will notice bees coming and going from a box and they go and investigate it.”
Once they know what’s in the box, they’ll come back every time. The key is to keep the bears unaware of what a bee hive is in the first place.