In the shadow of blue and yellow trucks moving garbage to a landfill and compost factory nearby, two women walk up and down a dusty path at the edge of a closed landfill in Niagara Falls, sweeping the air for bees and flies with big white nets. Their pockets are filled with test tubes where they stow away honey bees, beetles and other unidentified pollinator bugs they catch.
Kiera Newman and Julianne Oliveira sweep the site every other Wednesday for four hours, in one-hour increments, and send the bugs to a research lab at the University of Guelph to be identified and recorded.
Newman, a professor at Niagara College, and her student Oliveira are members of Eastern Canada’s first commercial beekeeping program. The three-semester program, which started in January 2017, coincides with the normal life cycle of a honey bee.
Their research at Walker Industries — the company that owns the landfill they sweep — is part of a pre-assessment to convert 20 hectares of the almost 70 hectares of landfill land into pollinator farms and help to restore pollinator habitat and conserve pollinating species.
“We’ll be able to see what happens before the bee hives are put in and before they plant their pollinator gardens and crops,” Newman said. “By next year we’ll be able to see how the pollinators are reacting.”