Coun. Leif Wergeland displays his self-crafted mason bee lodges.

Saanich councillor gets beekeeping buzz

It is bright afternoon in late June and Coun. Leif Wergeland talks about the bees that ping about his backyard.

More specifically, he is talking about their homes, a stack of rectangular cuboids fastened to a pole sitting in his garden that invokes the image of a skyscraper for bees. A carpenter by training, Wergeland created these lodges himself with some wood and a drill to carve the nesting holes after a neighbour had raised the possibility some two years ago.

Intrigued, Wergeland went to a local hardware store, where he found one selling for $40. “Me being me, I thought I could make one. But of course, once you make one, you might as well make six.”

True to the theory of ‘they will come, if you build it,’ local mason bee populations have since taken to Wergeland’s creation.

“I was amazed how the bees were attracted to it,” he said. “It was a big increase. Because we have a lot of flowers, plants, fruit trees, and what not, you notice the activity.” His neighbours has also reported a spike since the shelters went up, he said. “In general terms, they have said that it has made a big difference in their yard.”

For Wergeland, this effect neatly illustrates the ability of individuals to make a difference for the collective by showing initiative and summoning their sense of self-reliance. “Sometimes, things are so simple,” he said. “I have a saying, if everyone does a little, together we can do a lot.”

Wergeland finds himself in a long tradition of drawing philosophical inspiration from bees, whose symbolic reach extends far beyond fables and fairy tales.

Plato used descriptions of bee society to work out ideas about human politics. While often speculative, Aristotle’s observations of bees advanced scientific understanding of them. Bernard Mandeville’s The Fable of the Bees straddles the fields of sociology, economics and philosophy.

Bees have also served as symbols of economic and political power. They appeared on Roman coins. Napoleon and his nephew Napoleon the Third placed bees in their respective royal arms. Seven bees adorn the crest of Manchester, once the centre of the Industrial Revolution.

While Wergeland was not necessarily thinking along those lines, he nonetheless believes that his own departure into apiculture holds some larger lessons.

“As as residents, we sometimes say, if only the municipality could do this or that,” he said. “But there are lots of things individuals could do themselves, be involved themselves.”

Municipalities in turn often make similar demands upon senior levels of government, often ignoring areas, where they could act themselves. “There are some things, and yet we so often fail to see what we can really do. If we have the political will, we can do it.”

Individuals, he said, do not need to wait on government to make a difference, he said.

Such areas include learning how to plant and grow a garden, beneficial lessons that future generations would then pick up, he said. What ultimately matters is not the size of a garden, but the realization and knowledge that individuals can grow one and reap the benefits from it.

“It can start small and it can grow from there,” he said. “And what you plant in a kid’s mind will grow forever.”

Just Posted

Two missing Victoria children found safe

VicPD responded to two separate missing children calls Tuesday

Crews repair damage after Tuesday night water main break in Langford

Flooding resulted in property damage, forced evacuation from Langford homes

Saanich amalgamation committee holds first meeting

Saanich councillors call for a transparent process to ensure success of study

Snow not melting fast enough for some Greater Victoria residents

Resident unhappy with lack of snow removal on Mount Doug trails

‘It consumed my life’: Inside the world of gaming addiction

World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Police seize bottles of grapefruit vodka from wanted man’s snow-pants

The men were pushing two shopping carts with a woman inside

Tonight’s sporting event costs more than the Super Bowl, and Obama is going

Tickets are going for more than $4,000 to watch the Duke - North Carolina basketball game

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Police dog tracks suspect through wintry Vancouver Island backcountry

Assault suspect arrested after two-hour track by Nanaimo RCMP police dog Jager

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

Most Read