New Food Systems Coordinator
Michalina Hunter is very happy to be joining the One Straw team for the summer as their student intern. She is particularly looking forward to helping to plan the incredible Edible Garden Tour, hanging out at farmers' market booths, writing articles for this newsletter, helping with Live and Learn events, researching the Community Food Hub initiative, and delving into the vibrant food culture on the Sunshine Coast.
Michalina is going into her fourth and final year at Quest University in Squamish studying environmental education and sustainable living. Michalina She grew up in Wilson Creek catching tadpoles and yelling at the chickens from a young age. She is very interested in local food systems, gardening, food preservation, and wild foraging. When she's not gardening with her cat, Michalina can be found making sauerkraut or photographing bees. She hopes to see you at the farmers' markets this summer!
Wise Ways Mentoring Project
Calling all seniors! 
Do you have an amazing skill you would like to share with your community? Are you 65 or older? Do you live on the Sunshine coast? 
The wealth of knowledge that exists in our senior population here on the Sunshine coast inspired the Live and Learn program of One Straw Society to create the 'The Wise Ways Mentoring Project' with funding from Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program.  Our community is rich with a significant senior population who have skill sets that are unique to their generation and need to be shared with the present and future generations.
We have created 20 new volunteer mentor positions that are available this year to applicants that have sustainable skills they would like to share with their community, who are willing to joins us a few times a month for fun events and participate in our graduation event in February 2014.
The project will teach new mentors how to effectively run a workshop to share what they know and give them full support by supplying venues and participants as well as assisting the mentors during the workshop to keep it all running smoothly.
Sustainable skills can include fiber arts, cooking, gardening, storytelling, crafting and many other pastimes that can enhance the skills of the people of our community and put smiles on their faces.  
To apply, pick up an application at these locations:
Sechelt Information Centre or at the Sunshine Coast Museum. Or you can contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  
What's New on the Sunshine Coast Food Scene? 
- A message from the new Food Systems Coordinator (Michalina Hunter)
I thought I was going to write my first article on queen bee rearing. Bees may seem like a strange subject for a food newsletter, but if you recall that bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the foods we eat, including fruits, nuts, many vegetables, and alfalfa to feed animals for meat and dairy, and provide one of the only local sweeteners, bees quickly lose their label as "just another bug". Imagine a grocery store where all that is available is wheat, corn and barley (which are wind pollinated crops and do not rely on bees for pollination), but no apples, almonds, carrots, broccoli, onions, berries, and much more. Our diets would be dismal. Bees suddenly become integral to our food system.
I wanted to write about queen rearing because I had just heard that the Sunshine Coast Beekeeping Association had had success raising its own queen bees in miniscule plastic "queen cups". Beekeepers usually have to import new queens from New Zealand, one of the last places free from parasites. Being able to raise their own queens gives local beekeepers an edge on being self-sufficient and contributing to a vibrant local food system.
So off I went to my first official Sunshine Coast Beekeepers Association meeting at the Botanical Gardens on a drizzly Monday evening to find out more. It's less of a meeting and more of a "lets open up the hives and see what's happening" kind of hands-on workshop. We opened up the first hive that had been re-queened two weeks prior to see if the queen was alive and active. We looked in the honeycomb for signs of a good queen: bee eggs (which look like tiny grains of rice at the bottom of the hexagonal cell). 
We didn't find any right away, so we continued to look for the queen, and thereshe was on the first frame we took out, light blonde in colour and very fat! We kept looking for the tiny bee eggs and we finally found some at the bottom of some cells. That meant that the new queen had just mated and was expanding the hive. Excellent! Deeper in the hive, we found some big cells in which new queen larvae develop, but they had been chewed into on the sides. Apparently that is the work of a newly hatched queen sabotaging any potential queen competition, so we began our search again for a young queen somewhere within in the humming chaos of the hive. Rob Haines, local beekeeper and queen breeder, commented that it looked as if there were fewer bees in the hive compared to their inspection last time. I thought a disease may have come through, but fortunately Rob glanced over his shoulder at the nearby pine tree.
"There they are!" he exclaimed.
Perched about 25 feet away on a branch was a ball of bees about the size of a basketball. The bees had swarmed, and we were there at the perfect moment to witness this amazing expansion of the hive! When a bee colony gets too big a new queen is raised and the hive will often split in two while one queen goes to find a new place to live. This is a happy time for the hive, and the bees on the branch certainly seemed content and calm.
After all in attendance took obligatory cell phone photos with the swarm, it was time to catch the bees and take them to their new home in another hive box. Rob climbed a ladder and carefully brushed the bees into the box. We put on the lid and hoped that all was well. Unfortunately, the swarm on the branch kept getting bigger, which meant that we had not caught the queen after all that work! Luckily we were able to spot the queen and entice her and her loyal subjects onto an empty frame from the old hive, which we quickly put in with the rest of the captured swarm.
Worker bees fanned scents with their wings near the entrance to the hive to tell other bees to come join the queen. The hive was finally safe and sound after an eventful day, and I had witnessed an exciting growth process in the hive at my first meeting! This swarm was also particularly interesting because it was led by the new, virgin queen (who had sabotaged her rival queen cells back in the hive) instead of the old queen, which is very rare. Bees are mysterious insects that definitely do not read the rules in beekeeping books!
So I thought I would ask questions about those miniscule queen bee larvae in plastic cups, but the meeting turned out to be too eventful for that. Instead I witnessed how interesting and exciting bees can be and what a thriving beekeeping community we have on the Sunshine Coast. Let's hope the hives continue to expand and pollinate our gardens. Cheers to the bees for our apples and berries!
For more information on the Sunshine Coast Beekeepers Association, "like" their facebook page or call (604)740-5753 or(604)989-5321.