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A Day in the Life of a Hollyburn Honeybee

Hollyburn Apartment Rental Beekeeping Blog

Hollyburn Properties is committed to supporting the communities where our rental apartment buildings are located in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Ottawa. That’s why we partnered with Ensure Hive Future (EHF).

EHF installed honeybee hives at some of our Vancouver rental apartment buildings in Downtown Vancouver, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver.

And, now that the bees are happy in their homes on the rooftops of our Vancouver apartment rentals, we wanted to tell you what a day in the life of a Hollyburn honeybee looks like!

Hollyburn Gardens Apartment Beekeeping in West Vancouver

Apartment beekeeping at Hollyburn Gardens Rental Apartments in West Vancouver.

How many honeybees are there?

After complete metamorphosis, the bees emerge as adult honeybees and have different roles within the colony. There is one queen bee, hundreds of male drones, and tens of thousands of female worker bees. The hives at our rental apartment buildings will grow to house more than 50,000 bees per hive!

Each honeybee has a purpose to support the health of the hive. (Kind of like how each roommate has a role in keeping a rental apartment tidy!)


Close-up picture of the Hollyburn honeybee hive at Hollyburn Gardens Rental Apartments in West Vancouver.

A Day in the Life of a Hollyburn Honeybee:

The Queen Bee:

Every day, the queen bee serves as “the reproducer.” During the springtime, she can lay about 2000 eggs to gear up for the busy season. That’s A LOT of eggs!

The Drone Bees:

The male drone bees don’t contribute to the day-to-day life inside the colony. They don’t work or make honey. Their only role is to mate with the queen. When they’re not mating, drone bees fly around the neighbourhood, sometimes as far as 7km from the hive!

The Worker Bees:

The female worker bees are the unsung heroes of the hive. Their days are packed and over the course of their six-week lives, they perform many essential jobs for the hive. The activities of their days depend on where they are within their lifecycle. The first 18 days are spent inside the hive, cleaning, caring for young drones, attending to the queen, adding enzymes to nectar, fanning the hive to control the temperature, and making beeswax. After that, they exit the hive and spend a few days on gaurd duty, completing their orientation flights. Only after this, with roughly 20 days left in their lifespan, does the worker bee become a forager. As a forager, they spend their days collecting pollen and nectar for the hive, often traveling several kilometers away to find the best food.

Help make it easier for the foragers by planting bee-friendly flowers on your apartment balcony. Check out our blog “5 Bee-Friendly Plants for Your Apartment Balcony” to learn the best ones!

Next time you spot a bee in your neighbourhood, try to guess what its role is!

Watch the bees buzz LIVE at Hollyburn Gardens on the BeeCam!

Why is apartment beekeeping so important?

Urban beekeeping is an important part of sustaining a healthy ecosystem. It supports food production and security and also promotes the growth of Vancouver’s green spaces, such as parklets, building landscaping, and community gardens. Did you know? These green spaces provide proven benefits to mental health and overall wellbeing for those who rent apartments in populated cities. According to the World Health Organization, green spaces even increase relaxation, reduce the risk of health complications, and alleviate stress! But, more on that another time.

The rooftop community garden at The Lonsdale Rental Apartments in North Vancouver

The rooftop community garden at The Lonsdale Rental Apartments in North Vancouver

The rooftop community garden at The Lonsdale Rental Apartments in North Vancouver

The rooftop community garden at The Lonsdale Rental Apartments in North Vancouver

Through our apartment beekeeping, Hollyburn and EHF hope to:

  • Help save the bees from pesticides and unsustainable agriculture practices
  • Educate the community through research and hands-on involvement
  • Support healthy and happy neighbourhoods by using our apartment buildings for good

About Ensure Hive Future

Ensure Hive Future is a Federally Incorporated not-for-profit dedicated to apiary research and education. One of their goals is to see local production of disease-resistant honeybees and remove our dependence on imported honeybees. They do this through community outreach, education, and research – using science to save the bees.

About the Hollyburn Properties X Ensure Hive Future Partnership

Ensure Hive Future will maintain honeybee hives on Hollyburn apartment buildings in Downtown Vancouver, West Vancouver, and North Vancouver. These hives are located on the roof of each apartment building to ensure they do not disturb our residents and to protect them from wildlife.

This partnership is different from other urban beekeeping programs for 2 reasons:

  • Ensure Hive Future does not use imported honeybees within their colonies. This contributes to the sustainability of local, native honeybees and helps create mite-resistant bees for better chance of natural survival.
  • Hollyburn and Ensure Hive Future want this to be community-inclusive. We know that the program’s success, and the bee’s health and happiness, will improve if we are all participating and learning together!
Hollyburn Gardens Apartment Building BBQ

Children enjoying the demo beehive at a Hollyburn apartment rental building in West Vancouver.


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