If you come down to our historic mansion by Lake Superior, you might notice our two-hive apiary tucked into the corner of the vegetable garden. You then might ask “Why does Glensheen have honey bees?”

Aside from the sweet sweet honey every fall harvest, honeybees are incredibly important parts of our ecosystems. Honeybees fulfill the vital roll of pollinators. They fly from flower to flower gathering pollen, and in the process they cross-pollinate! The bees take pollen and nectar from the flower to make honey.

A duo of worker beans eating split honey in the hive.

Pollinators are essential to plants producing fruits, veggies, and helping flowers thrive. Cross-pollination happens when pollen from one flower comes into contact with a different flower. For honey bees, they carry the pollen on their hind legs on their corbicula, or ‘pollen basket’. Whenever pollen in these baskets brush off, tada pollination!

Unfortunately, honey bees around the U.S. are struggling to stay alive due to many challenges, from a deadly bacterial disease called American Foulbrood to parasites called varroa mites. Considering that nearly a third of the food crops in the US depend on honey bees, we here at Glensheen wanted to provide a helping hand to our friendly pollinators by keeping them in a safe and secure home.

If you look closely at the cells in the center right, you’ll see itsy-bitsy white oval-shaped eggs in the bottom of the cells.

And of course, our honey bees help with one of my favorite missions: giving back to the local community. Honey bees will forage for nectar and pollen from plants within two to three miles. That means all of our neighbor’s gardens and the wildflowers have Glensheen bees helping them grow big and tall! Plus they help us haul in a big harvest in our veggie garden, all of which is donated to CHUM.

Emily, our head gardener, is showing off a frame of bees to some tour guests!

We also love to talk and educate people about our bees. If you spot a beekeeper in the apiary at Glensheen, come say hi! Our bees are almost always in a great mood and we beekeepers are usually in a better mood, despite sweating in the jacket and veils.

Stay tuned for another Glensheen Bee blog with me, Jaron the Apprentice Beekeeper!