Stayin’ alive

I’m about to walk up to a beehive in south Ottawa and introduce myself — slowly, gently — to the 50,000 inhabitants. The late-day sun feels warm, and the three-hectare (eight-acre) bee-food buffet of burdock, clover and thistle around us is plentiful. As I approach from the side, foraging worker bees zip in and out the front door of the hive, and guard bees patrol their turf. To this newbie, it looks like a happy colony.

Standing close by, beekeepers Marianne and Matt Gee of Gees Bees Honey Company coach me through the process. Here on their urban farm, just north of— I kid you not — Honey Gables, Ont., on the Rideau River, they offer daylong beekeeping programs. Today they’ve agreed to give me a personal crash course. I figured this would involve watching them work with the bees. Maybe sampling some honey. Instead, it’s a hands-on lesson.

Read more in re:porter Issue 67, on planes now.