Humber College students will be seeing a lot more black and yellow in the coming months.
Humber North and Lakeshore campuses will each be getting three new bee hives that will be kept on the rooftops. There are already seven beehives kept in the Arboretum at North campus.
The project is expected to begin once the weather is consistently warm, probably around May or June, said lead beekeeper at Humber North, Fran Freeman.
Freeman helped kick off Earth Week at Humber as she gave a lecture about why bees matter in the Main Concourse Monday afternoon.
In addition to the information booth Freeman ran with Humber beekeeper John Coffman, there were booths selling local honey and beeswax products, including candles and skin products.
Bees survive better in the city than in the countryside, mostly due to stricter laws that prevent the use of pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the city, said Freeman. They also have better access to water sources and diverse plant life, she said.
The rooftop provides a safe space for the bees. A controlled ecosystem can be created where the bees can flourish. As many as 60,000 bees can live in a single hive, said Coffman.
Having the bees on the rooftop will also ensure minimal contact with the students.
“It’s a little more inaccessible to students and the public,” said Coffman. “You’ll be able to see them outside the window, but they won’t be interfering with people.”
This is for the bees’ safety as much as for the staff and students. In fact, both Freeman and Coffman stress people shouldn’t be worried about being stung.
“Honeybees are gentle, unless they are disturbed unnecessarily,” said Coffman. If a student does get stung, it will more likely be by a wasp than a honeybee, he said.
Bees are pollinators, which means they are responsible for helping crops and plants grow and thrive, said Freeman.
“They are what make our food system a secure one,” she said. “If the bees disappeared we’d all be in trouble.”
Second-year Visual and Digital Arts student Salvador Celestial recognizes the importance of bees and is happy Humber is doing its part to help them flourish.
“I think it’s really cool. There’s a shortage of bees around the world. People, without knowing, kill bees, and they’re a huge part of the ecosystem.”
For Coffman, the new hives will be another opportunity to spend time with the creatures he loves.
“When you open that hive and you hear their hum and you see them flying around, you know what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re so important to the whole ecosystem. The way they operate, it’s a real miracle.”