Paul, Owner of Adelaide Honey Bee, Pollinator and Wildflower Reserve
An exploration of a Newfoundland based bee reserve to explore why Newfoundland has some of the healthiest bees in the world and to learn what it takes to make an ideal environment for bees to thrive.
Paul has one of those personalities that could get you excited about anything. His infectious enthusiasm is contagious and, fortunately enough, his passion and excitement is directed towards a topic that is already interesting, besides his enthusiasm; beekeeping.
Paul, having recently retired from the Health and Safety industry, had slowly begun gaining interest in beekeeping and while learning about bees he realized that he was sitting on an environment perfectly suited for their well being; it was still wild with native pollinators, was zoned for agriculture, and was surrounded by farmland that they could explore and pollinate. From there, he found himself increasingly captivated by bees and beekeeping and, naturally, started his relatively new beekeeping operation, Adelaide Honey Bee, Pollinator and Wildflower Reserve.
Arriving at his property you quickly know you’re in the right place by seeing all of the handmade signs strategically laid out with catchy, fun bee-related phrases, and once down the driveway it’s easy to spot the colourful hives in the distance. With typical Newfoundland hospitality, you are welcomed into his and his wife, Brenda's, home, where he would typically begin his educational dialogue and a quick run-down of the procedures while touring the farm. “Just, please, watch where you step! It’s easy to forget as they may be just dandelions, but there’s a high chance there’s a bee on that flower and we don’t want to be killing any bees!”, Paul explains playfully, his compassion for the insect apparent almost immediately.
Through the business Paul offers educational honey bee hikes of his reserve with the focus on educating about bees and their honey production, destigmatizing bees and the fears associated with them, stressing the importance of native pollinators and wildflowers, and educating on how to handle and treat bees in your community. To me, Paul’s goal of reducing the fear of bees is one of the most compelling steps. Almost as soon as we're close to a hive he calmly explains the procedure, “Stay relaxed, walk calmly to the side of the hive, then walk behind and slowly creep in from the opposite side.”
As he explains this he has suddenly positioned his unprotected face directly next to an extremely active hive and seems to be completely unbothered. Following his steps I quickly find myself in the same position that I was shocked to see him in minutes ago. I’m standing beside an active hive and, to my surprise, there's not a single ounce of fear within me. Being beside a hive as active as this is intoxicating; the sound is almost therapeutic, and from here you can see the details of the bees at work. You can see the actual pieces of pollen the bees are carrying and the order within the chaos of the bees entering and leaving the hive. After that, any fear I may have had of bees had been diminished.
Walking through the property Paul makes a note to point out all the different plants that the bees enjoy pollinating. He points out various dandelion, willow, chuckley pear, and spruce trees, and throughout the process he describes, in detail, the importance of maintaining native trees, wildflowers, and natural habitats for the bees. To thrive, Paul explains that “They require many diverse wildflowers and trees blooming over a six month period at various times, clean water, and a habitat that is free from pesticides and neonicotinoids. We need pollinator habitat in every yard, parking lot, or roof top.”
Paul’s reserve is interesting in that it, at times, feels like you’re going for a hike but there happens to be bee hives beside the trail. This is deliberate, as his understanding of natural habitats is an important factor in designing his reserve. This way, bees have plenty of area to explore and pollinate with a wide variety of various wildflowers and trees. Almost comparable to humans, bees do not want to be cramped with hundred of hives and also prefer a variety in their diet and lives.
It’s also worth noting that, because of the ideal conditions in Pauls reserve and the superb health of Newfoundland bees, it’s likely that Paul and other Newfoundland beekeepers are able to provide some of the most organic honey in the world. And, in addition to the quality, because of the quantity of native wildflowers Paul is able to provide variations including Wildflower Honey and Fireweed Honey.
Although it’s obvious that recreating the ideal environment that Paul has created on his property is impossible for a lot of people, it’s still very possible to make most environments more friendly towards bees,. Paul explains, “Many cities are becoming aware of pollinator friendly gardens, but we need many more of them. Lawns might look like a beautiful green carpet, but they do not provide much, if any, nutrition in the way of pollen and nectar. If the bees and other pollinators are lucky there may be some dandelion or clover, but once the lawn is cut the bees have nothing. If people have natural wildflowers in their area, promote the growth by letting them go to seed and grow on your lawn or flower beds. Rooftop gardens and parking lot gardens are desperately needed across the country. The funny thing that many people do not realize is that bees are the key to a healthy environment. If we all planted flowers and trees, the bees and other pollinators will come, and next we would see the songbirds, and plus the soil will become better for growing and wildlife will replenish.”
In addition to his honey bee hikes, Paul also offers other services within beekeeping. He offers consultations and an ‘adopt a hive’ program for prospective beekeepers as well as honey bee swarm rescues. For the adopt-a-hive program he uses his understanding of bees natural habitats to assess an individual's home to first see if the hive will thrive in the new environment and then, if approved, provide the hive with regular maintenance for a monthly cost so that a) the customer can take care of the benefits of a hive without all of the work, and b) Paul can rest assured that the hive will thrive and not die. In addition, if a swarm is found and needs to be rescued, Paul will safely remove the bees and give them a new home, likely on his reserve. Both of these additional services are just another sign of his strong compassion for the insect as, ultimately, Paul is seemingly doing everything he can to help the threatened bee population and give them the best life possible.
For more information on Adelaide Honey Bee, Pollinator and Wildflower Reserve please visit https://www.facebook.com/AdelaidesHARPP/.
For a look into the Newfoundland bee association and the logistics of keeping Newfoundlands bees healthy visit our last profile: https://www.goodplanetproject.com/newfoundlandbees