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Lauren Park



Lauren Park is a first-generation farmer who has been working in agriculture for fifteen years. She is a beekeeper, specializing in queen bee rearing, in the Gaspereau Valley of Nova Scotia. In addition to her farm, Forest Hill Apiary, Lauren runs the 2000+ hive Cosman and Whidden Honey farm specializing in fruit pollination and honey production.

Lauren's passion for agriculture started quite accidentally fifteen years ago after riding her bicycle to the Cosman and Whidden Honey Farm and asking for a job. After growing up in southern Ontario and spending summer months on her family's farm in Grey Bruce County, bees gained a place in Lauren's heart. Lauren's mentor Tom Cosman always granted Lauren the freedom to grow the farm and to continue learning off farm whenever possible. Lauren is still as passionate about bees as she was fifteen years ago and loves the unique place bees have within our food system as pollinators and honey producers. Lauren loves the intersection between art and science she finds in working with bees. Lauren began rearing queen bees almost ten years ago with a goal of lowering overwinter loss rates within her operation. Queen raising has become Lauren's favourite niche and what she can be found doing in the peak summer months.

When the bees are dormant, Lauren spends time pursuing her other passion, music. Lauren is an accomplished musician who not only teaches, but has performed with the likes of Symphony Nova Scotia, Opera Nova Scotia, and at the Apimondia 2019 congress.

Lauren is active in a cross section of agriculture organizations. Presently a director with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture Council, Lauren is passionate about ensuring farmers have a strong voice in the industry and to government. Lauren is past president of the Beekeepers Association of Nova Scotia and has been involved in key initiatives to ensure a sustainable beekeeping industry in the future.

Honeybee Sustainability Through Queen Bee Health

Honey bees are essential to Canada’s agricultural industry and the broader environment. Canada is home to over 800,000 colonies of honey bees. These bees provide honey for human consumption and pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat, in addition to essential crops that become livestock feed. Honey bees are under stress from a multitude of interacting factors. These factors need to be addressed through local queen breeding, increased diverse forage, continued disease and pest management, and industry collaboration.

The Queen bee is the most important bee in the hive, responsible for laying all of a colony’s eggs. The Canadian beekeeping industry is heavily dependent on the importation of queen bees and there is strong potential to expand and formalize the queen rearing industry in Canada to create a queen suited to the Canadian climate that is available in spring when queen bees are in highest demand.

Queen failure is one of the leading causes of hive mortality. The causes of queen failure are poorly defined and misunderstood. Many factors affect queen health and need to be mitigated to ensure a sustainable future for the beekeeping industry. Challenges include climate change, queen longevity, the Canadian climate, a fragmented industry, transportation, and knowledge gaps in queen production.

Industry collaboration is a key part of bee health. Farmers, landowners, and urban populations all have a role to play in understanding and promoting bee health. The need for increased forage exists across all pollinator species. Cross-commodity collaborative efforts between agricultural and other stakeholders will strengthen the health of pollinators, specifically honey bees and therefore strengthen Canada’s food system.

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