| Environmental Columns

Bees in Pointe-Claire

In early July, beehives were installed on the rooftop of the Central Library to improve and promote biodiversity in the City of Pointe-Claire. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about these pollinating insects that are so vital for our environment.

Why protect bees?

Bee populations have drastically decreased over the past few years due to the use of pesticides, urban pollution, a loss of habitats, a decrease in the number of flowering plants, and climate change. That’s why it’s so important to protect them.

Bees are pollinating insects. Pollination allows flowers to be fertilized and thereby produce fruit. According to several studies, bees are responsible for pollinating 35% of the food produced around the world. Without pollination, there would be no coffee, chocolate, apples, and many other types of food.

Where do the bees in the Pointe-Claire hives come from?

The bees come from a bee farm in Outremont, and the genetic stock of the two queens is Californian. Queens from California live longer, while queens from Quebec are more cold-resistant and become active earlier in the spring.

When the queens die, they will be replaced with queens from Quebec.

What is the lifespan of a honeybee?

A bee’s lifespan varies depending on its role in the hive. A queen lives for about three to four years. A worker bee normally lives for six to seven weeks, but lives for four to nine months in the winter. A male bee, called a drone, lives for four weeks to four months; it mates with the queen and dies immediately afterward.

How many bees are there in a hive?

A typical colony includes one queen, 600 to 1,000 drones, and 50,000 to 60,000 worker bees.

What bee species lives in the Pointe-Claire hives?

The bees in the Pointe-Claire hives are Apis mellifera, which means “honey-bearing bee.” It is a domesticated species that produces honey.

Is it true that bees die if they sting?

In most cases, yes. The worker bee’s barbed stinger is directly attached to its abdomen. When a bee loses its stinger, it also loses some of its organs, which usually kills the bee. However, the stinger is not always ripped off. Drones (males) have no stingers, and queens have smooth stingers which they can use multiple times without dying.

What are the various roles of worker bees?

Worker bees can have different roles throughout their life cycle. Here is a list of their roles in order: cell cleaning, nursing larvae, producing wax for honeycomb, fanning the hive to keep it cool, guarding the hive, and foraging. Bees also make honey while they produce wax and fan the hive.

Do bees hibernate or overwinter?

Bees overwinter, meaning they find shelter without slowing down their system in a noticeable way. In winter, worker bees cluster around the queen and constantly move to keep the inside of the hive warm and protect the queen.

What is the difference between summer honey and fall honey?

The difference comes mainly from the flowers in bloom. Summer honey is mostly made with clover, milkweed, sweet clover, alfalfa, bramble, and vetch. It is pale in colour and has a sweet, floral taste. Fall honey is made with goldenrod, aster, joe-pye weed, as well as red and white clover. It has a darker colour and a fruity, slightly spicy taste.

How much honey and wax do bees produce per year?

A colony usually produces between 60 and 100 pounds of honey per year. It will use approximately 25 pounds of honey to feed itself. A single bee will produce only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey during its lifespan. We get one to two pounds of beeswax for every 100 pounds of honey collected.

There are a lot of questions about these tiny creatures, so it’s important that we understand them in order to protect them! To learn more, you can borrow books about bees at the library. The staff will be happy to help.



Catherine Giordano – All About Honey Bees: 20 Questions … with Answers; accessed July 19, 2017; https://owlcation.com/stem/All-About-Honey-Bees-20-Questions-with-Answers

Châtelaine: Caroline Fortin – Les Miels du Québec; accessed July 20, 2017; http://fr.chatelaine.com/cuisine/les-miels-du-quebec/

Food4Farmers – Bee Products for Income; accessed July 21, 2017; http://food4farmers.org/our-projects/beekeeping-in-latin-america/bee-products-for-income/

Honeybee Centre – About Honeybees; accessed July 19, 2017; http://www.honeybeecentre.com/learn-about-honeybees

Office pour les insectes et leurs environnements (OPIE) – La foire aux questions de l’Opie; accessed July 21, 2017; http://www.insectes.org/insectes/questions-reponses.html?id_quest=38

Perfectbee – The Role of the Worker Bee; accessed July 20, 2017; https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-life-of-bees/the-role-of-the-worker-bee/

Wonderpolis – What Do Bees Do in Winter?; accessed July 20, 2017; http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-do-bees-do-in-winter/

Wonderpolis – Why Do Bees Sting?; accessed July 20, 2017; http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-bees-sting/