By ERIN HORROCKS-POPE
Eight years ago, Corrine Johnston started a journey that would not only bring her joy but also contribute to the environment’s well-being.
She began backyard beekeeping at her home in the Upper Beaches, driven by her fascination with insects and a desire to make a positive impact.
Johnston’s passion for beekeeping is evident. “It’s fun to watch them [the bees]. They’re fascinating little things with far more complex societies than people realize,” she told Beach Metro Community News.
Even though she isn’t the biggest fan of honey, Johnston said she find joy in producing honey from her hive, sharing it with friends and family, and selling jars locally for $15. Norwood Park Apiary is unpasteurized, raw honey with natural hints of lavender, a nod to the gardens that flourish throughout her neighbourhood.
But being a beekeeper goes beyond just harvesting honey. Johnston is licensed with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, emphasizing the importance of responsible beekeeping due to the potential for bees to contract diseases and spread them.
“There’s a lot that goes into being a responsible beekeeper; it’s not a hobby you can just pick up and put down when you feel like it,” she noted.
Backyard beekeeping, the practice of maintaining beehives in residential areas, has been gaining popularity for various reasons.
One of the primary motivations for enthusiasts like Johnston is the growing concern over declining bee populations and the critical role they play in pollinating plants, including many of our food crops. By keeping bees in their backyards, hobbyists create safe havens for these pollinators and boost local pollinator populations. City bees are also less exposed to the pesticides often used in rural farming areas.
Neonicotinoid pesticides, commonly used in agriculture to protect crops from insect pests, have raised concerns due to their harmful effects on bee populations. These chemicals can contaminate the nectar and pollen of treated plants, putting bees at risk. Backyard beekeeping offers an alternative, pesticide-free environment for bees to forage, reducing their exposure to neonicotinoids.
Backyard beekeeping has emerged as a powerful ally in the fight to safeguard bee populations, particularly in the context of neonicotinoid pesticide use. It provides safe foraging spaces for bees and offers a diverse range of food sources.
Additionally, it acts as an educational platform, increasing awareness about bees’ crucial role in our ecosystem and their dangerous challenges.
When asked for advice for aspiring backyard beekeepers, Johnston stressed the importance of careful thought and research.
“Take a course online, join a group of other beekeepers … you need to really think about the commitment,” she said. “This isn’t some cheap hobby that you can drift in and out of, and like any animal, the bees need to be tended to.”
Johnston’s journey into backyard beekeeping is a testament to the positive impact that individuals can have on bee populations and the environment. Her local small-scale operation, licensed and committed to responsible practices, not only produces delicious honey but also contributes to the well-being of these essential pollinators.