Local woman offering a helping hand for the honey bees of Bella Coola

Local woman offering a helping hand for the honey bees of Bella Coola

After multiple honey bee colonies failed to survive the harsh winter in the Bella Coola Valley, one woman is on a quest to rescue local hives.

Bees from outside of the valley already have a difficult time because of the cool, moist climate, according to Eva Draper, owner of Earth Spirit Honey, who lost the three colonies she purchased last year.

Draper said residents should contact her right away if they find a swarm as the window for rescue is only a few hours long.

“In their first year, the hives have to do a big job collecting honey, preparing their hive for winter and they were just too weak of a colony for that horrible winter we had,” she said.

This year as swarming season begins — the process bees undertake to form a new colony — Draper is asking anyone who finds a swarm without a home, or a swarm that’s made its home in an inconvenient place such as a garage or house, to call her as quickly as possible.

“We give them a wonderful home, take care of them … and then when they have an abundance of honey we collect a bit for human consumption,” she wrote on Facebook.

Draper hopes to gather a couple of local hives in the hopes those bees will be more robust and acclimatized to the wet environment in Bella Coola.

Draper moved to B.C. ‘s Central coast two years ago. She rescued her first bee colony before that, in Ontario, after the keeper of those bees died. Back then she says she was actually afraid of bees.

“All things that buzzed were scary to me. As I researched more and more about honey bees I realized the magnificent qualities that they have and how gentle they are,” Draper told Audrey McKinnon, associate producer on CBC’s Daybreak North.

Since then she’s gained more experience and explained that when a hive grows too big, it naturally wants to split.

Once a new queen is hatched, that queen and a large group of worker bees will set off in search of a new hive. The old colony remains functional.

“Some people think you’re taking away from nature,” said Draper. “You’re just capturing a swarm on its way to it’s new home.”

Story from CBC’s Daybreak North