Time relevant

The buzzz around the building

Hive Splitting

As spring winds down and summer approaches, for many there is a last rush to finish spring clean-up duties. The same is true for our beekeeping teams across Oxford Properties locations, as they busily finish the delicate task of splitting hives. Splitting hives is an arduous chore that takes place in spring to divide hives that are becoming slightly crowded. In the same way that a human family with many children might consider moving out of a small house, a bee colony that is filling their hive space may consider swarming and moving on to somewhere more suitable for their colony size. Our beekeepers account for this by removing part of the hive to create a new colony. The old hive gets to continue its work, while the new one gets to build a new hive with some stellar new real estate and a new queen. One crowded hive will morph into two working hives. More hives will eventually mean more honey—and that makes life even sweeter! The photograph below shows our bee yard where hives are being split.

Architect Bees

Speaking of hive splitting, one might wonder what happens inside the hive as it grows. The bees instantly get to work building up their new hive. At about seven to fourteen days old, a bee is able to produce wax. These bees are called “architect bees” because they create the materials that make the hive structure possible. Wax flakes are produced in the bees’ abdomen. With help from worker bees, the secreted flakes are then chewed into a more malleable state and used to build the structures we call “honeycombs.” The photograph below from our hive at the Airport Business Park in Calgary shows this process as it happens. You can see honeycomb cells being developed in this young hive. These cells will soon hold more baby bees and eventually honey. Isn’t it incredible that with bare wood and a naturally produced substance that our bees are able to create such a magnificently intricate internal architecture?

Colourful Flowers and Colourful Pollen

As people plant gardens and enjoy the plethora of colourful flowers that beautify our urban landscape, the bees enjoy them for a different reason—food! The flowers that we plant (especially those in the purple, violet and blue shades) provide bees with the pollen and nectar they need. As bees collect the items they need they assist flowers in fertilization by spreading pollens. The first photograph below on the left from our hives at Bow Valley Square in Calgary shows our bees wearing what our beekeepers call “pollen pants.” Pollen pants are not just a fashion choice. Using static electricity a bee can carry up to twice her bodyweight back to the hive, to be packed away for food. The photograph below on the right shows some stored pollen in our hive at 1790 Eglinton East in Toronto. Look at that array of colours! The deep red and purply hues come from the flowers of the horse chestnut tree. How amazing is it that the flowers we plant feed our bees, who help fertilize the flowers, eventually giving us the honey we in turn enjoy? Bees and flowers are one of natures great relationships and we humans can help them both thrive!

Did You Know?

Oxford Properties currently hosts 33 hives across Canada. That’s more than 171,000 bees! Our bee program is just one way in which we maintain our commitment to sustainability.

This post was written by Oxford’s very own Joshua Baker, the Corporate Concierge at TD Canada Trust Tower in Toronto.

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