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No bee left behind
Toronto Bee Rescue crushes Kickstarter goal; Toronto bee population rejoices

The congregation of the Revival Time Tabernacle on Dufferin Street just north of Downsview Station are, for the most part, unaware of the bee sanctuary that has sprouted up in the patch of woodland they share a property with.

Yet, if one walks to the right point, ducks under the right branch, and wanders down the right hidden path they’ll stumble upon a handful of hives swarming with activity as the bees attempt to bolster their defences for the winter.

The apiary, or bee yard, is one of a handful being built up by the husband-and-wife team of Peter Chorobik and Sarah Allison-Chorobik, through Toronto Bee Rescue, an initiative that is looking to rescue hives across the city from extermination.

When colonies break off into swarms and seek to expand they often land in places such as homes, scaffolding or property that puts them into a direct conflict with humans. The duo, who offer their services for free, will come in and remove the swarm and relocate it to a sanctuary where they can continue to thrive and pollinate.

“Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a third of our crops, and without their help our farmers would have smaller yields, our food costs would increase, and some of our favourite fruits and vegetables would disappear,” says Allison-Chorobik in the duo’s Kickstarter project video posted on Sep 22.

The couple decided to go to Kickstarter to seek backers for an expansion of their service, which would include the purchase of 10 new colonies, 10 hives, 100 frames and 200 seed packages. All to ensure they can keep serving as a sanctuary for stray bees in the greater Toronto area.

Unlike some bee keepers who take in swarms the Toronto Bee Rescue holds a no rejection policy, taking in often unstable and even diseased feral swarms to try and rehabilitate and incorporate them into the sanctuary.

This breaks common practice as some sanctuaries will be selective with swarms they relocate, as to protect it from particularly laborious colonies and infectious diseases that can spread from wild hives.

“I would love to get those bees as well,” says Chorobik –a third generation beekeeper- from his backyard overlooking the forest that conceals his apiary. “I’ll take the risk for the good of the community.”

This results in the need for unique beekeeping techniques, such as the grouping of weaker colonies in sectioned off hives so that they may share heat to fend off the frigid winter, in order to rehabilitate feral hives.

On Oct. 20, the duo hit their target of $4 thousand dollars on Kickstarter with the help of 93 backers as of Wednesday. With the campaign still open until the 31st, any additional money raised is being funnelled to purchase even more honey bee hives.

With the expansion the team is also looking to make their sweet byproduct, Toronto Bee Rescue honey, more readily available for consumers. Thus providing an environmentally sound and local product right from the environment they are looking to protect.

“Our goal would be to have beehives all over the GTA,” says Chorobik “I want people to know we are their source for local honey.”

Image via Flickr user Treesha Duncan.
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Dylan Freeman-Grist is a staff writer for Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter

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