Adventures with The Cultch bees!

A Note from Laara Sadiq, The Cultch’s Resident Beekeeper

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A Note from Laara Sadiq, The Cultch’s Resident Beekeeper

The Apiary (a collection of beehives) at The Cultch is in its 5th season this year. I’m grateful to be practicing the art of beekeeping on unceded Coast Salish Territory.

We currently have two thriving double-deep colonies on the roof of the Historic Theatre as well as a mature medicinal pollinator garden, filled with English Lavender, Clary Sage, Thyme, Poppies, Gladioli, Honeysuckle, seasonal Tulips and Crocus and a variety of wildflower

Queens Kali and Lakshmi are healthy and laying like champs. Kali is a 3-year-old indigenous Queen, born and raised in her colony. Lakshmi is a Saskatraz Queen from Saskatchewan who
was introduced to her colony late last summer.

So far, we’ve been fortunate that our spring losses each year have been minimal. As the beekeeper, I’ve been learning from the local beekeeping community, as well as hands-on experience, to develop an intuitive, relatively non-interventive style of caring for them. I follow an Integrative Pest Management style that doesn’t use harmful pesticides or toxins. The bees themselves are teaching me a lot about caring for them. So far so good!

Typically, I harvest a modest 40-50 lbs of honey in late August. Their honey is a delicious combination of tree and flower pollen from the surrounding neighbourhood. It’s a beautiful, rich, floral tasting honey that is distinctly East Van. The Cultch has created a tradition of giving the honey to artists who pass through its doors. It’s become a lovely ritual, with no money exchanging hands for the jars.

Last year, both colonies were struggling a bit midsummer, around the time that the Blackberry nectar comes on and they get down to the business of making the bulk of their honey for winter stores. I made a decision to leave them their entire honey stores for overwintering. It was a good move. They came out strong this spring, with very low mite counts and healthy populations. As a result, it looks like we may be able to do a small early harvest in addition to the late summer harvest.

It is such a pleasure to be the beekeeper at The Cultch. I volunteer my services, and in exchange, I have had a place to learn and grow my skills as a beekeeper over the years. We operate on a very modest budget, but the returns are huge. Honey, beeswax, medicinal plants, and the bees, who contribute to cross-pollination and biodiversity throughout the 5 mile radius around the apiary. 

They are truly miraculous creatures…

Laara Sadiq

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