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Why Brandon University is setting up beehives on campus

The Brandon University campus is abuzz.

The university is bringing a small number of urban beehives to the city of Brandon as part of a five-year pilot project called Bee-U, which launched last year.

In 2022, there were two hives on campus that produced 250 lbs of honey. This year they are splitting the hives to create four.

“We’ll see how much honey they produce. We’ll see how active the bees are throughout the city, but it’s going to be exciting to see how we can grow with this project,” said Deanna Smid, an associate professor at Brandon University, in an interview on Tuesday.

Over the course of the summer, the hives are set up, maintained and then removed. Once they are removed, the honey is harvested and the bees are returned to their apiary for the winter.

Smid said the project highlights the importance of bees and other pollinators. It also boosts food security in the city of Brandon, as some of the honey is donated to food security organizations.

“It’s easy to forget how important bees and other insects are, but when they’re in your backyard, almost literally, it’s harder to not have them at the forefront of your mind,” she said.

According to a report from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, last year was a tough one for bees as there were major losses. Smid explained this does not just impact beekeepers, but has an effect on Manitoba’s agriculture.

“The losses in 2022 were catastrophic. Beekeepers lost close to 100 per cent of their bees,” Smid said, adding that it’s a bit too early to tell what the bee losses were like over the winter.

For those who want to help the bees in their own backyards, Smid’s suggestion is to do “nothing around your yard.”

“Allowing weeds, like dandelions, to grow is actually essential for honeybees and for native pollinators. It’s one of their first food sources in the spring,” she said.

For anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of the hives at Brandon University, they are located on the roof of the Knowles-Douglas Student Union Centre. The university also plans to install cameras to set up a hive-stream.

- With files from CTV’s Ainsley McPhail. Top Stories

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