Beekeeper Profile: Oliver Couto

Oliver Cuoto is the principal beekeeper at The Bee Shop, a Toronto-based urban apiary. He is also an instructor for Introductory Beekeeping Course at the Toronto Botanical Garden and at The Bee Shop.  He owns The Bee Shop located at 1340 Bloor St West Toronto, ON.  Their apiary has Ontario farm status; and they do tours and educational programs like beeswax candle-making, honey wine-making, and introductory beekeeping.  Honibe sat down with Oliver to talk more about his work:

What made you start beekeeping?  I did a major in philosophy and another in environmental studies at University of Toronto and my sister told me there was a beekeeping collective in Toronto looking for members and she suggested I join as it would be in my field of the environment.

What do you love about beekeeping? Beekeeping has a profound spiritual side that is slowly being developed. For example, Honeybees help turn our earth into a paradise. Through their pollination services, they beautify, perfume and render nature fruitful and abundant. I also enjoy the tours I do with daycare and grade school children.  They are always in awe as they learn about honeybees and pollination, especially when they learn how to pollinate a flower by hand.

Why do you do it? Beekeepers render a tremendous service to our nation. The honeybees and other pollinators help to ensure our nation's food supply. The honeybees and other pollinators are doing a very rare and astounding thing in Nature: they are helping to produce quantity in quality. Usually where there is quality, it is rare or of very small quantity, unless adulterated. The crop yields, due to honeybees and other pollinators, goes up by 60% to 200%.  While I barely make minimum wage as a beekeeper, it is an honor to serve our nation by tending to these special, beneficial creatures, as well as to teach beekeeping to the public - youth and adults alike. 

Anything to note about beekeeping in your region? Being in Toronto I am an urban beekeeper so there are differences between urban and rural beekeeping.

Anything unique about your bees & your methods? On my rooftop apiary I do have a zodiacal pollinator garden with flowers from each different sign of the zodiac all in their respective hexagonal planters. We call this honey the heavenly honey as the floral content is from the stars symbolically.

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