The Canadian Opera Company is proud to announce that two honeybee hives have been recently installed on the roof of its opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, located in downtown Toronto at the corner of Queen Street. and University Avenue. With these two hives, the COC joins a small but growing number of urban spaces in Toronto with honeybee colonies on its property.
Since 2007 there has been a mysterious and significant decline in the number of bee colonies which scientists have labeled Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Many scientists are concerned because of the fundamental role bees play in the human food supply, as they are active participants in the productivity of virtually all naturally grown products in the world. However, while the CCD crisis shows no signs of abating, there are measures that can be taken to promote a healthy bee population in Canada – such as the introduction of more urban hives. Ironically, in urban areas, where there is less pesticide use, bees have a greater chance of flourishing than in agricultural areas.
“The planet is losing honeybees at an alarming rate and we are happy to provide a place for them atop our opera house,” says Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company. “We are always open to new ways to contribute to our community, and by adding honeybee hives to the roof of the Four Seasons Centre, we are one of the few companies in Toronto taking a leadership role in this area. More than anything, we wanted to take one small step towards helping the bee population recover its numbers. It’s completely vital to the future of the planet.”
Beekeeper Fred Davis approached the Canadian Opera Company in the fall of 2009 with the idea of placing hives on the Four Seasons Centre roof. As a member of the Toronto Beekeepers Co-operative since 2004, Mr. Davis, is an amateur apiarist who has already installed two hives within the grounds of Toronto’s Casa Loma in 2009. “The COC’s opera house is an ideal location for honeybees, as they can benefit from the density of flowers and green spaces within a 3 – 5 kilometre range of the building,” says Mr. Davis.
Patrons visiting the Four Seasons Centre need not worry for their safety. “Honeybees are docile, well-behaved, respectful urban citizens, and remain near their hives on the roof, or search for pollen in nearby gardens,” says Mr. Davis. Alexander Neef concurs, “In all my years of working for the Paris Opera, I never once saw a bee in or around the opera house and they have had hives on their opera houses’ roofs for many years.”
Approximately one-third of food products are derived from plants which require pollination from honeybees. Honeybees in the downtown area help proliferate thousands of flowers, trees and rooftop and balcony gardens in the surrounding urban area. The addition of these new residents will help diversify the types of species of bees and plants that currently exist in the area, which will lend to the bee population’s overall growth and strengthening.
As the hives become stronger, the COC will benefit from a bounty of natural, unprocessed honey. One hive, in full production, could have up to 60,000 bees working to produce approximately 100 lbs. of honey. If the hives flourish in the first year, the COC can expect to collect approximately 50 to 60 lbs. of honey.
The two bee hives can be seen from a glass door located on Ring 4 in the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room of the Four Seasons Centre. The hives are not accessible to the public.
FOLLOW THE BEES ON COC.CA:
Read regular posts by beekeeper Fred Davis and occasional updates from Gianna Wichelow of the COC.
See photos and watch videos of beekeeper Fred Davis installing the two bee hives and explaining the rationale behind why the Four Seasons Centre rooftop is an ideal urban location. Keep a look out for more fun videos of Fred visiting the queens and their colonies at coc.ca. (To access photos at the above link the username is cocpress and the password is mediapix.)
The Canadian Opera Company’s award-winning website, coc.ca, contains information on all productions and programs and allows visitors to enjoy a wide variety of interactive features available for downloading and streaming.
About the Canadian Opera Company
Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and third largest in North America, and celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2009/10. Under its new leadership of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC continues its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. The COC currently enjoys a remarkable 100% attendance rate and the highest subscription rate in North America. The COC performs in its opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects. From its inauguration in 2006, the Four Seasons Centre has been hailed internationally as one of the finest opera houses in the world. The Four Seasons Centre is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company please visit coc.ca.