Gordon Cyr and his family certainly do and they’re renting out their buzzing critters for the seventh year in a row despite COVID-19.
The Cyrs own Bee Canadian, a small business that sells and rents out mason bees in the Campbell River and Courtenay area. In 2020, they decided to expand the rental program to the South Island.
Orchard mason bees are native to Vancouver Island, require no maintenance and are harmless, friendly garden-helpers in terms of plant and flower pollination, Cyr explained. For $25, Bee Canadian provides 50 baby bees and a housing unit that can be installed on an east-facing wall outside towards the end of March.
Typically, Cyr attends farmers’ markets and gardening events around the Island so those who’ve signed up to adopt bees can pick them up in person. However, due to COVID-19, he had to make other plans. Over the second weekend in March, he drove down to Greater Victoria with a car full of bees to drop the critters and their housing units off at a friend’s place. This way, registered renters could be alerted about the pick-up site and stop by to collect their bees with no social interaction.
By mid-March, he’d delivered 5,000 bees and 30 bee-houses in the Greater Victoria area.
By the end of the month, some 135,000 rented bees will be pollinating gardens across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. There are 700 bee-houses still to be prepped and delivered, but Cyr was waiting until restrictions eased so his volunteers could lend a hand. Now that 10 people may gather outdoors, they can make a bee-line for Cyr’s hobby farm in Oyster River to get the remaining houses ready.
The bees will spend the spring pollinating – 250 bees can pollinate an entire acre – before laying their eggs in the nesting holes in the bee-houses. The adults will die, but at the end of June, the eggs will be returned to Bee Canadian to be cared for until next spring.
Rentals have ended for 2021, but bees can still be purchased until April 19. Cyr expects uptake for 2022 will be “fast and furious” and recommends placing orders early.