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Healing Plants for Self-Medicating Bees

Sunday, January 27, 2019 - 12:45 pm to 1:45 pm

Bee on goldenrod

Workshop Description

Compared to other insects, bees have 1/3 fewer genes devoted to disease resistance and individual immunity, making them particularly vulnerable to a variety of pests and pathogens.

Rather than individually, honey bees meet various challenges at a colony level in a response called social immunity.

Various behaviours such as grooming and hygienic actions, resin collection, self-medication, social fever, & altruistic self-removal are a means of maintaining or re-establishing health in the hive.

This workshop will delve a little deeper into studies of some of the ways honey bees self-medicate using components of the plants they forage.

Along the way we’ll touch on the ancient nature of honey bee gut biomes, immunosuppression, probiotics and addiction in the bee.

Suggestions will also be made for siting an apiary to take advantage of existing ‘medicinal’ forage and planting a honey bee healing garden or acreage.

Bumblebee on coneflower
Bee on clover
Bee on Sunflower

Speaker: Fran Freeman

For the past fourteen years, Fran has been managing honey bees in urban and rural settings using organic and sustainable apiary practices.

She currently cares for 20 hives at several sites and previously co-managed 30 hives as a member of an urban beekeeping collective.

She developed the curriculum for the Sustainable Urban Beekeeping certificate course which is offered through Humber College’s Continuing Education and the Humber Arboretum and teaches it at the Centre for Urban Ecology, Toronto.

She also provides workshops and summer programming on honey bees, native bees & beekeeping at the YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre near Nobleton.

Fran Freeman checking a hive with a stethoscope