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Pollinator Project creating a buzz

UOIT started hives on campus after noticing influx of bees near former Winfield Farms lands

By Aly Beach/The Oshawa Express

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) sells its own honey. And thanks to the hard work of the Sustainability Office’s Pollinator Project, they sold over 400 pounds of the gooey goodness in 2017.

The Pollinator Project was started in 2016 when UOIT noticed there were hives of bees swarming the old barns that are part of the former Windfields Farm land owned by the school. The bees were starting to cause problems, so they called in a local beekeeper and decided to start their own hive on-campus. There are now 15 hives of honeybees on the UOIT north campus.

“We were happy and excited that they were actually honey bees,” says Nadia Harduar, asset and sustainability planner at UOIT.

UOIT has since planted 2.8 hectares of wildflower seeds, to promote the visitation of other pollinators to the Pollinator Project, allowing them to thrive. Other pollinators include butterflies, insects and hummingbirds. The school is planning to plant two more hectares of wildflowers as part of the project.

While the Pollinator Project is still relatively young, Harduar hopes to expand the honey project to include beeswax candles. She hopes to turn the project into something used for education as well.

“Hopefully in the future, once we develop and grow, we can create candles with the beeswax and tie in a sort-of educational component by holding education workshops on campus related to gardening, bee management and the importance of pollination,” says Harduar.

Currently, there is only one student who can participate per harvest, but as the Pollinator Project expands, Harduar hopes for students, particularly UOIT’s Blue Team, to get more involved in the honey-making process. The Blue Team is a group of students who are passionate about the environment and sustainability.

“We’ve learned a lot. We’re able to see where and how students can get involved more, so the Blue Team that we have this year are very excited to be part of it,” says Harduar.

During the 2017 harvest year, UOIT only harvested from six of the 15 hives, as some hives are still new and shouldn’t be disturbed. Very little is done to the honey once it is harvested, as it is sold unpasteurized.

Although they are currently sold out of their 2017 harvest, jars can be purchased at UOIT’s Shop61 at their north and downtown campus for $7 next season.

“It does taste wonderful and it’s great to see students, staff, faculty, people who come to visit see that we have this and support it and learn more about our pollinator project,” says Harduar.