I live in a pretty densely-populated area of Montreal. Three years ago I noticed many bees congregating in my garden around a dripping hose I had been meaning to fix. Groups of twenty or more were quite common. My small city garden is not very well manicured. I planted some wild rose bushes a long time ago and they certainly have thrived. Add to the mix, clematis, peoney bushes, black eyed Susan and some cone flowers and I concluded that the bees were not just coming to drink. There was pollen in this jardin anglais!. My back yard is bordered by a city lane that is part of the Montreal initiative, ” Les Rouelles Vertes”. That means our lane is not paved but rather left to grow green and wild. Golden rod, milkweed and Queen Anne’s Lace flourish there. Add a little judicious planting by the city of Saskatoon berry bushes and elderberry along with orange day lilies, and you have an urban paradise for pollinators.
The high number of bees was puzzling though. A stroll down the lane revealed that one of my neighbors had bravely taken on a new project. She had set up two small hives. She was glad to hear her charges were getting plenty of water even though she had a supply set up for them in her own yard. Perhaps it was a case of, ” the water is wetter on the other side of the fence” ?
How interesting it was to meet my neighbour and learn about her enthusiasm for her project but also to wonder at her courage. We always think about intrepid bee keepers brandishing their smokers, and kitted out in impenetrable gear. However, imagine the first time a novice beekeeper opens the hive! A scary moment, no?
As you can see, this year our neighborhood bees outdid themselves. Production was over one hundred kilos. I bought a few jars and even got a freebie in honor of my watering hole! After all, it never hurts to spread your wings and try new places….especially if you’re a city bee.