Buckerfield’s abuzz over bee distribution

A group of Valley residents, some of them new to the idea of beekeeping, will pick up nucleus colonies

A group of Valley residents, some of them new to the idea of beekeeping, will pick up nucleus colonies (NUCs) of live honey bees at Buckerfield’s in Duncan early Saturday morning.

Part of a Buckerfield’s initiative “It’s Your Bee Day” that is seeing the company distribute bee colonies both on Vancouver Island and in the B.C. Interior, something new for the retail community, according to company owner Kelvin McCulloch.

“To my knowledge, this has never been done before by any B.C. retailer,” he said.

“We’ve presold almost 160 NUCs to customers, many of whom are first time beekeepers.”

Buckerfield’s has made an effort to keep the project as local as possible.

“Originally, we were going to purchase the NUCs for resale from an Ontario supplier until I contacted Paul Van Westendorp, the provincial bee inspector at the Ministry of Environment, to determine the regulatory requirements. On his recommendation, we secured the bees from a B.C. supplier.”

McCulloch contacted Jean Marc Ledorze of Golden Ears Apiaries in Mission, B.C. to see about bees for B.C.

“Jean Marc is one of the largest commercial beekeepers in the province. He is supplying us with the NUCs which he produced at his facility in Mission,” McCulloch said.

McCulloch said the idea to do this through the stores was “kind of a logical extension of our bee supply business which we started about three years ago. We supply everything for the bees and we’ve had enquiries about where can we get the bees, so we’ve decided to supply them.”

The bees themselves are contained in a colony.

“That nucleus colony is sealed, with air vents, and it serves as a hive. It has an entrance, which can be opened during the day,” he said.

Everyone will already have purchased their bees; this project required participants to pre-order.

“They are all aware of what is required. Yes, some of them are, for certain, first time beekeepers so they are in the learning process. But it’s no different really from people who are just starting with poultry, or people owning a pet cat for the first time. They just have to learn about what they are doing. It’s a very cool pastime. People find after they get their bees and start keeping them that it’s actually a fascinating and very rewarding and joyful experience.”

Buckerfields’ folks are to pick up the bees in Mission in two open trailers later today (Friday, May 13) and transport them overnight to the stores before the heat of the day sets in and the bees have to fly.

“The NUCs for the Island will be put onto the dangerous goods ferry operated by Van Isle Barge in Delta. Our Saanich and Parksville store managers will pick them up in Nanaimo and distribute them on the Island. I might be the one stuck with driving the NUC’s to the stores in the Interior,” said McCulloch, who was planning to be at Golden Ears to oversee the shipping.

It’s worth noting that these bees will be inspected by the provincial inspector Friday.

“Vancouver Island beekeepers have expressed serious concerns about the risk of importing Small Hive Beetle to the island, so we are taking every precaution,” McCulloch said.