Enjoy bee crafts, songs and honey at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary’s ‘Bee Day’ on Sunday. And if you can bee-lieve it, bee spit is on the menu too. The sanctuary’s annual bee event is going ahead despite losing half the hive when the Queen swarmed earlier this month. (Unsplash)

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

There’s no better place to ‘bee’ this Sunday than the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary when bee-enthusiasts gather for a “honey of a program.”

Bee Day is a truly ‘royal’ event that honours World Bee Day with bee crafts, bee songs and opportunities to taste honey and bee spit. Best of all, attendees get a close up view of the hive and learn from passionate bee-experts about the intricacies of the colonies.

READ ALSO: Saanich sanctuary asks residents to be(e) on the lookout for lost honeybee swarm

“We think it’s really important to educate people about the importance of even just having bees in your own backyard,” said Kathleen Burton, executive director of the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society. “Honey bees in particular are on a decline, so it’s really important to spread the news about not just bees, but pollinators in general.

We want people to not be afraid of them and instead embrace them and support these little guys to continue doing what we need them to do on the Island.”

While the sanctuary hosts a bee-themed event every year, change has been aflight lately with the disappearance of a long-ruling and incredibly successful queen bee – who took half of the hive with her when she left earlier this month.

Burton said the hive is still on the lam and its unlikely they’ll be found – but fortunately the remaining hive has a new virgin queen, the daughter of the runaway. The virgin queen will soon head off on her “nuptial flight” where she finds mates outside the hive.

“Her mother had great genes, so hopefully, as long as she can carry on her mother’s legacy, then we will have a native queen breeding when she returns from her nuptial flight,” Burton said, adding that alone and outside the hive, the new queen’s safety is at risk.

READ ALSO: Saanich sanctuary still on the lookout for lost honeybee swarm

But the incident, although tragic for the thriving colony, presents a unique viewing opportunity for visitors. Visible in the hive is the location where three new queens emerged, and where two of those queens were killed by the winner.

“Three queen cells were produced [and] it’s really neat to see ‘that’s where the queen came out and that’s where the queen killed the other queen,’” said Burton. “It’s something a little bit different that people will get to see that they wouldn’t ordinarily get to see.

I’ve been joking with people…I’ve got Game of Thrones happening right here in the nature house,” Burton added with a laugh.

Despite the tension of a hive in transition, Burton promises that ‘Bee Day’ will be a fun and family-oriented event for all.

“It’s not every day that you actually get to see inside a bee hive,” she said. “You can look right into it and see how it works – see the little bees as they are coming and going from the hive, doing their dance, telling the other bees where to go and find the pollen, it’s quite fascinating.

Everyone will “bee” amazed. It’s a great, fun event.”

Bee Day is a free event, put on with support from Victoria Natural History Society. The event is held Sunday, May 26 from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary (3873 Swan Lake Rd.).

Donations are encouraged.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay students abuzz for new bee garden



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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