beehives toronto

Someone in Toronto is looking for a spot where they can put their beehives

A hobby beekeeper who is new to Toronto and doesn't have the space or blessing of a landlord is looking for a spot to keep two beehives.

The hives would conform to all ordinances and wouldn't both have to be in the same place. If you're already enticed by the idea, maybe this is a clincher: you get honey and pollination services in exchange for hosting the hives.

Damian Maddalena and his wife moved to Toronto for work at U of T in the summer. They signed contracts before the pandemic started and self-isolated at home in the southern States before getting the green light from border services and the university to move here in July.

Maddalena started out in environmental science but now works in the geography department, and some of his main interests are climate change, agriculture and permaculture. His former house was home to chickens and fruit trees, the whole front yard dedicated to a vegetable garden.

He says "bees were always on [his] radar" and he started out as a hobby beekeeper when was offered a hive by his neighbour across the street, whose father had built some. He started with one, but his collection soon swelled to over seven hives. Maddalena was hoping to maybe start selling honey before signing on for a new job in Canada.

You "can't move bees, can't move bee equipment" according to Maddalena, so although he could have sold his hives he instead chose to donate them, giving one to an elementary school teacher, combining some, and leaving some for a friend to manage so he can still visit.

He compares bees to a sourdough starter, something that can be easily shared but requires love to flourish. Fortunately, he says "people love bees" so he's already gotten lots of responses to a request for space to host hives here in Toronto.

Maddalena says the strongest candidates are two people with farmland north of the city, saying it's "ideal" and that having land is a "pipe dream" of his, but that he "hasn't checked it out yet" and is "looking at geospatial data."

He's also been connected with a land conservancy through a friend that can offer a spot outside town, though you can't drive to the plot and would have to hike in. The strongest possibility in Toronto is land owned by an institution around the corner from Maddalena's house, and ideally he says he wants spots inside and outside of town.

Why? Maddalena is "interested in what's around, what bees are foraging on."

"It would just be fun to have a place to drive to on weekends, my six year old son helps out. I would like to have a hobby that allows me to sell honey, something to do when I retire," he said.

Maddalena isn't really interested in selling honey for the profit, more as a social enterprise. While physical distancing is still in effect, however, socializing only with bees sounds like a great way to pass the time.

Lead photo by

Damian Maddalena

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