Getting Seriously Buzzed With The Strathcona Beekeepers Association Folks


by Grady MitchellTradecraft takes Scout readers into the workshops, kitchens, and toolkits of Vancouver’s most talented crafts-people. From trusty pencils and custom-built machines to good luck charms and bespoke chef’s knives, this new column aims to get to the bottom of every creative attachment. No laptops or cellphones allowed!

Today we hear from members of the Cottonwood Cooperative Apiary, part of the Strathcona Beekeepers Association. Since they operate in a group manner – almost hive-like, I’ll submit – they’ve presented their tools as a collective. Take a look, and don’t get stung…

1. Hive Tool | “Bees love gluing everything together in their hive with propolis, a very sticky resin mixture that the bees actively collect from plant sources such as sap. A hive tool is essential in a beekeeper’s toolbox; it’s a mini crow-bar that helps us separate and give leverage to lift frames of comb, or hive bodies stuck together with propolis and wax. It is also great for scraping off unwanted extra burr comb that the bees create outside the frames.”

2. Smoker |  “Although not all of the bee-keepers at our apiary use the smoker, it is a very useful tool to have when the bees start getting agitated while inspecting the hives. The smoke can mask alarm pheromone signals between bees and keep them in a calm state. It also simulates a forest fire situation, which initiates a honey eating frenzy in anticipation of possible hive abandonment, making them a bit sleepy (some say they get too chubby to sting properly).”

3. Bee Suit | “Here are some bee suits we use at the co-op, the one on the right is a full suit with attached veil, and the one on the left is a multi-piece outfit in which the ‘veil’ vest can quickly be slipped over normal clothing without having to fully ‘suit up’ when you want to do a quick check. White is not necessary, but it is easy to spot and brush off a rogue bee before taking the suit off (a panic stricken bee caught in clothing folds is usually how we get stung). Also it is said that wearing darker colours such as black and brown can make you appear like their natural predators, bears and badgers, which can set off an alarm response when approaching the hives.”


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