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To bee or not to bee?

Students at John Mahood Public School were treated to a presentation about bees June 16, an offshoot of a program to add beehives at the Lanxess plant in Elmira. [Leah Gerber]

The Egyptians were the first people to keep bees. A sweat bee, the official bee of Toronto, will land and lick the sweat off your arm. Many types of bees don’t actually live in hives together.

A plethora of bee facts were presented to students at Elmira’s John Mahood Public last week at an education event sponsored by Lanxess Canada.

The chemical company recently arranged to have two beehives installed on their Elmira property. The company that installed and will maintain the hives is Alvéole, an urban bee-keeping company working primarily in the Greater Toronto Area.

Jon Keates, an urban beekeeper with Alvéole, was one of the presenters at John Mahood last week. He says these presentations for kids are especially necessary.

“It is important that everyone understands how the world they live in functions and the part that creatures as small as bees play in the grand scheme.

“When we do these presentations for children we are hoping to get them more comfortable and attached to the idea of pollinators so that as they continue to grow they will want to help them as best they can.”

Lanxess staff had already worked with Alvéole at their Toronto location, said Jamie Petznick, the health, safety and environmental manager at Lanxess Canada. Over the course of the winter, staff decided to install more bee hives at the Elmira location.

“Our West Hill site in Toronto has worked with Alvéole for a couple of years now, they’ve had hives there. Elmira added hives this year and our Pittsburgh-Burgettstown site, it has also added a hive this year, so we’re slowly growing the number of sites around North America that have the hives with Alvéole,” Petznick said.

Along with their hive installations and maintenance, Alvéole provided Lanxess with two presentations. One was held at the Lanxess property where the hives are located, and the other Lanxess gave to John Mahood PS last week.  

The bee hives are located on the east side of the property in an area secluded away from the employees, said Petznick.

Alvéole staff will take care of maintaining the hives as well as harvesting honey and wax.

“Now that the hives are set-up on the property, they will be visited every three weeks to help control the growth of the hive and ensure they are healthy and not growing too quickly,” said Keates.

“I think for us it’s really to try to build and show our commitment to the environment. Obviously I think there’s been a lot of concern in popular culture and in the media around the (bee) populations over the last few years and this is something where with our site we have lots of open grassland areas, and we see it as kind of a win-win opportunity,” said Petznick.

“We can provide ecological space for bees to have a habitat and they don’t have a day-to-day impact on us and we don’t have a day-to-day impact on them and it gives them a place to hopefully thrive and provide some benefit to the environment around us.”

Petznick says the honey will be given to employees and visitors as gifts. 

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Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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