We have hives at North and Lakeshore campus

In an effort to rebuild the number of worker honey bees in our local area, the Office of Sustainability installed hives on campus to provide a safe environment for honey bees to thrive and to collect nectar from flora in the local areas.

Without honey bees, our grocery stores would be empty

Honey bees are a vital member of our community, as they pollinate approximately 70% of the world’s crops. 

Meet the Beekeepers 

Fran Freeman has been sustainable beekeeping for over ten years. She studied Apiculture and Sustainable Urban Agriculture at the University of Guelph and Permaculture Design. She also cares for bees at the Humber Arboretum.

John Coffman started beekeeping eight years ago as a member of the Toronto Beekeepers Co-op where he helped manage 30 hives and direct the co-op. He has a degree in Botany and taught high school science. He now manages his own hives in both urban and rural settings.

Social Awareness: Colony Collapse Disorder

Sadly, the gentle honey bee is quickly becoming extinct due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is mainly caused by the heavy use of insecticides (also known as Neonicotinoids). Urban beeking has become a great alternative and helps the honey bees thrive. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why keep bees in the city?

According to experts, 62.5% of bees that live in urban environments will survive the winter compared to a low 40% of rural bees! This is because they are maintained by loving beekeepers that can ensure their warmth and safety year round. As well, they are far from the use of insecticides that are harmful to their health.

How do they travel from the flowers to their hive?

Honey bees are incredibly intuitive and can calculate the angles of objects that interfere with flowers.  Once they have located nearby flora, honey bees communicate the location to their fellow bees. This insightful method of locating flowers allows them to be kept at heights and in cities.

As well, having the bee hives on the roof ensures that the bees remain safe and that students, staff and faculty feel comfortable observing them.

I’m afraid of bees. Am I going to get stung?

Don’t be afraid of having bees on campus!  Honey bees are very gentle creatures and will only sting when they feel threatened or provoked. They’re here to work, just like you are. Our advice is to let them go about their business, and avoid swatting at them.

What happens to the honey? Can I buy it?

Honey is harvested in the summer or fall each year and used by Humber's culinary program and any remaining jars will be given away to college guests or as event prizes. The volume produced may vary by year. If we have a good year, we may sell some. Contact us to find out. 

Why are there dead bees near the hive?

This is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. The life cycle of a bee can range anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, and in the early spring/summer, the bees are working very hard to collect pollen. This hard work can exhaust bees and shorten their life span. But these dead bees are not a sign of an empty hive… In fact, a queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs PER DAY, and over the course of a summer, a single hive can have up to 80,000 bees!

How do I found out more about Humber Sustainability and the Humber Honey Bees?

Contact us!