Local beekeeper Ron Lofthouse opens up one of his backyard hives in January. The Italian honeybees are pretty docile in the cold and their sting is not strong in winter. Lofthouse is conducting a workshop for adults on beekeeping this April at the Haliburton Highlands Museum. JENN WATT Staff

How sweet it is: beekeeping workshop on offer this spring

By Jenn Watt

For most of Ron Lofthouse’s life the buzz of the bees and smell of honey has been a constant. He thinks he “caught the bug” when he was five walking into Lorne Thurston’s honey house as the sweet smell of honey wafted over him.

“I first got involved with bees when I was 15 years old. I inherited some bees from an uncle who became allergic to the stings and he said I could have the hives if I moved them to somewhere other than his backyard. So I moved them to a farm outside of Oshawa” says Lofthouse who now lives in Haliburton Village.

He currently has hives in his backyard.

As soon as spring rolls around Lofthouse gets excited for the season. Even the sting of the bees which is milder in the spring is something he looks forward to.

Lofthouse trained in beekeeping and has been an instructor as well. On April 2 he will be teaching a full-day beekeeping workshop for adults at the Haliburton Highlands Museum which is entirely free as long as you register ahead of time.

From his backyard operation Lofthouse can expect just more than 35 jars of honey which he sells at the Haliburton farmers’ market. (He previously sold at the Art Hive before it closed and praised them for their work.)

Provincially there has been plenty of talk about bees and other pollinators and the role pesticide has played in diminishing the insects’ population.

According to the government of Ontario about $992 million of economic activity is generated by pollinators each year in Ontario. Last year the legislation was introduced to reduce the number of corn and soybean crops planted with neonicotinoid-treated seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.

Lofthouse says these actions are much needed but have little effect in Haliburton County where farmland is limited and there are few beekeepers.

The main threat to bees in the Highlands? Bears.

To keep the honey producers safe electrified fencing is needed.

He also agrees with the province’s recommendation that landowners make their properties more insect friendly. Plants such as sunflower goldenrod calendula geranium and aster all attract pollinators.

For those interested in attending Lofthouse’s beekeeping workshop get in touch with the museum: 705-457-2760 info@haliburtonhighlandsmuseum.com.