As modern townhomes and apartments spring up around Neil Harvie’s Langley City home, he’s become accustomed to greeting new faces in his block. But nothing could prepare him for the surprise he found in his backyard Friday morning, when he discovered that hundreds of new neighbours had moved in overnight.
A colony of honeybees have taken up residence between two fence planks in his backyard.
Harvie’s not sure just how many there are — it could be hundreds or thousands — or where on Earth they came from, but the magnificent sight has captured his interest, and that of his friends.
“He called me right away and said, ‘Lorne, you gotta see this,’” Harvie’s good friend, Lorne Walchuk, said, while creeping up to examine the buzzing mob.
“Wow, that’s mint!” he exclaimed.
“That’s not something you see every day — I love it.”
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The group suspected there may be a nest somewhere nearby, after they saw — and heard — dozens of bees zipping back and forth across Harvie’s backyard the night before.
Harvie has since put in calls to have a professional move the swarm to a more appropriate location. But in the meantime, they are enjoying being able to witness some of nature’s hardest — and most vulnerable — workers in their element.
With their role as pollinators, bees are vital to food production and maintaining healthy ecosystems around the world.
Over the years, their populations have been rapidly decreasing, and scientists are working hard to find out why.
Data from the Canadian Association of Provincial Apiculturists found that in the winter of 2013-2014, the bee mortality rate across Canada was 25 per cent, compared to the longterm average of 15 per cent. In Ontario, it was 58 per cent.
According to the Canadian Honey Council, a colony of honeybees in the summer can have anywhere from 50,000 to 60,000 bees.
It takes 556 worker bees to gather one pound of honey, with each bee contributing 0.8 grams in their lifetime.
The value of their work in pollination of fruits, vegetables and legumes is estimated at $1 billion in Canada — about 10 times the value of the honey they produce.
To find out more bee facts, visit www.honeycouncil.ca.