Bees at St. Lawrence
A Hive of Our Own
St. Lawrence College is proud to be home to a colony of honey bees, which lives on our roof. This is an ongoing partnership with urban beekeeping organization Alvéole, which has similar hives all over Canada. You can visit their website to learn more about their work, and about their social and environmental mission.
At St. Lawrence we have one colony (one hive), which changes in number from about 50,000 bees in the height of summer to as few as 10,000 after a long winter. The bees thrive on the lovely flowers in the green spaces surrounding the college. We have been home to bees for several years now, and the present colony arrived at the college in April of 2022.
Alvéole visits about once a month over the summer to check up on the bees, usually on a Monday morning. Keep your eyes peeled for posts on our Facebook and Instagram announcing each visit. While it is not possible for students to visit the hives due to their location on the roof of the college, you can follow along on the beekeeping journey on Alvéole’s own social site, Ma Ruche | My Hive (posts in French only).
Fun bee facts
- To produce 1kg of honey, the bees must fly the equivalent of 4 times the circumference of the earth and visit up to 4,000,000 flowers, all found within 5 km of their hive.
- The Queen Bee lays thousands of eggs per day.
- Worker bees have a lifespan of 3 weeks to 6 months (depending on time of year), but the Queen can live up to 5 years.
- The bees keep their hive at an internal temperature of 35 degrees C by forming a cluster and using their wing muscles. Our hive is additionally wrapped up in the winter to make this task easier for the bees. Maintaining this temperature can be tough over the long winter months, especially as bee numbers decline in winter. Sometimes this means the hive dies, which happened to ours over the winter of 2021-2022.
- In spring of 2022, our existing queen left the hive with about half the bees, in a process known as “swarming”, where a hive splits in two. Because of this, the current queen was born and raised in our own hive.
For more info, please read the Fact Book provided by Alvéole.