InsideOut: Keeping bees at McMaster

November 7, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Jamie Mudrick
The Silhouette

“There are always challenges with raising bees in an urban setting,” says Brandi Lee Macdonald one of the co-founders of the Hamilton Urban Beekeepers.

Raising bees takes years of dedication, yet this group is somehow able to do this in a parking lot beside a helicopter pad here at McMaster.

Along with Macdonald, Amina Suhrwardy is the second co-founder of the Hamilton Urban Beekeepers, an initiative that began in late 2012. The hope is that people will understand the basics of honeybee biology, have discussions, and raise sustainable living awareness.

“[It] is a great network for people to become connected with each other,” said MacDonald.

This past summer was the first season for the bees. The beekeepers invited people from campus and throughout the Hamilton community to visit the hives. They put on demonstrations, such as hive building, teaching people the components of a beehive, and harvesting honey. Since there was only one hive during this inaugural summer, there was not an viagra no prescription abundance of honey, but they were still able to sell out during October’s Sustainability Day on campus.

MacDonald and Suhrwardy met through the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at McMaster. OPIRG has funded this working group, and awarded them the annual Public Interest Grant, which helped to propel this initiative to fruition.

In addition to providing funding, OPIRG helps with the Hamilton Urban Beekeepers outreach program, as well as assisting them when hosting events and finding guest speakers.

The Academic Science Fund through the McMaster Science Society also funds the project. Some of the great contributors to this working group are students from McMasters new Sustainable Future program.

Mark Lee, Mark Westerink, Nashwa Khan and Anna Iwanicki are part of the Sustainable Future program and they aid with the outreach of the group, through Twitter, a blog, knowledge of urban beekeeping through information boards.

The beekeeping program is also going to be helping McMaster departments with the assistance of Biology professor, Dr. Marvin Gunderman, and Psychology professor, Dr. Reuven Dukas. These professors use the beehive to educate their students about bees and pollinators.

Guelph University has a formal Apiculture, or beekeeping, program with a research center. The Hamilton Urban Beekeepers is more informal than Guelph’s program, since the spatial limitation of its current location will prevent it from exceeding a maximum of five beehives. The purpose of the program is not to maximize honey production, nor is it meant to teach people about how to become beekeepers, as this takes years to accomplish. Instead, it is about keeping healthy bees and teaching people about the necessity of bees in our ecosystem.

Communicating the importance of sustainable living is another function of the beekeeping program. A challenge that the program faces is connecting the way in which people spend their money and how that affects beekeeping. When you buy food from certain places, you either support good farming or bad farming. Becoming aware of what you can do to support your local community and not support the use of detrimental items, like pesticides, is very important. As Brandi said, “it’s about how you spend your money,” something that people rarely consider when purchasing an item as simple as honey.

The Hamilton Urban Beekeepers will be hosting a luncheon event on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 12:30 p.m. in room 230 in the McMaster University Student Center. Free Fair Trade coffee and tea will be provided by OPIRG. These events will be happening weekly throughout November and December. You can find out more about these events at


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