The buzz on campus: Honeybee hive installed at the Mount

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July 17, 2017

Jillian_Ruhl_beehive_cropJillian Ruhl is a Mount Applied Human Nutrition graduate student and part-time instructor on a mission to spread the joy of honeybees. 

On June 29, Jillian led the installation of the first University-based honeybee hive in Halifax. Tucked away at the edge of a parking lot in the north-west corner of campus, the hive is home to 10,000 honeybees to start. That number will hopefully grow to more than 50,000 by the end of the summer.

Jillian has been keeping honeybees on her own property for four years now. “Honeybees are really fascinating creatures and so wonderful to work with. I’m so excited by what the Mount hive will offer our University community and beyond.”

Her initiative will mean learning opportunities for all, as well as specific opportunity for nutrition and 
biology  students. There will also be a workshop this season focusing on “Bee Democracy” where lessons from the hive can actually apply to Business Administration students who have an interest in organizational behaviour.

On July 11, Jillian offered the first in her series of workshops: “Bee Safety 101”. This session included an introduction to bee keeping and the first inspection of the hive since its installation. A second workshop on “honey bee democracy” is scheduled for later in July, with more sessions planned for August through November, including discussions about recipes and products made from hive products, organic vs conventional beekeeping (diseases and pest management), and winterization of the beehive. There may even be an opportunity in the future to collect some honey yourself, if the season is permitting.

bee_hive_setup

“Normally, the first year for bees is devoted to wax production so a honey extracting workshop will have to wait until next year.” says Jillian. “But of course, participants are more than welcome to break off pieces of honeycomb for a sweet taste during the workshops!” Watch the Mount community garden’s facebook page for details of all upcoming workshops. Sessions are open to all members of the Mount community, with several open to the general public as well.

Jillian advises not to worry about bee stings. Generally speaking, if not disturbed, the bees won’t disturb you. “Handled properly, the hive is not an issue,” she said. “There are bees all over the Mount campus already. This campus is perfect for bees. It’s full of flowers, so a healthy bee environment.” 

When the weather turns cold later this year, the hive will move further up the Mount’s hilly campus to a location where it can winter peacefully. Over the winter months, the bees will “cluster”, staying warm and to keep  their numbers up.

“My vision is to really grow this initiative,” said Jillian. “I’d love to add more hives down the road, make more honey and even sell the products on campus, maybe alongside the Mount community garden’s veggie sales.” 

Jillian welcomes e-mails or phone calls from anyone interested in learning more about her Mount honeybee project. She can be reached at msvu.ca or 902-880-0573. 

View video from the installation at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpOnkQ0Vksc 












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