Saint Lazare teen receives sweet birthday gift

Alexis Ciarallo was gifted a domesticated beehive for her 15th birthday last weekend. (Photo by Kristina Edson)

5,000 bees making themselves at home

One Saint Lazare neighbourhood is really buzzing this week thanks to an unusual birthday gift that was given to a 15 year-old girl.

Alexis Ciarallo was gifted a domesticated beehive for her birthday last weekend after a family friend from Guelph, Ont., who’s known as the Bee Doctor, drove a hive with 5,000 honey bees to her father’s Saint Lazare home.

Alexis and her brother’s live at their father’s home each weekend.

Domenico Ciarallo said he gave the gift for his daughter the green light largely because she and her two brothers loved the film “Bee Movie,” by Jerry Seinfeld. The animated flick that tells the tale of a bee who sues humans after learning they’ve been stealing the honey from his fellow bees, also has an important message about the vital role bees play on the foods we eat.

“The movie really inspired the kids and my friend, Wylie Hudspeth, the Bee Doctor, kept saying he was going to give them their own hive to take care of,” Domenico said while watching his daughter learn to work with the hive Sunday afternoon.

“I’m sure Alexis is the first 15-year-old been keeper in Saint Lazare,” he added with a laugh.

Admitting the bees make her  a little nervous right now, Alexis said she’s going to get some books about bees and make tending the hive her “summer project.”

Asked if his neighbours have any concerns about the new addition to the street, Domenico said he doesn’t see why they would.

“As long as no one bothers the hive it’ll be fine. They’ll fly around pollinating flowers and plants and just do their thing,” he replied.

And he says he’s already gotten positive feedback from people living across the street who want to bring their children to see the hive, despite the fact that the mother is very allergic to bee stings.

“We have more trouble with mosquitos anyway, they’re much more harmful,” Domenico noted.

 Day in the life

According to Domenico, the bees quickly became acclimated to their new home.

“They started doing it the first full day here. They flew out of the hive when the sun came up and straight up into the air to figure out where they were and calibrate to their new surroundings,” he said of the information he received from Hudspeth.

The bees will expand their territory to a 5-km radius, pollinating favoured flowers and plants including buttercups, sunflowers, black-eyed Susan’s, and more.

The bees’ efforts should also help the flowers thrive while allowing their hive to produce a very sweet treat.

Alexis said she’s definitely looking forward to harvesting her first batch of honey.

“I love honey. I put it on pretty much everything,” the teen said.

Hudspeth told the family that their hive of 5,000 bees can quickly grow to include 50,000 bees.

“The queen lays 1,000 eggs a day,” Domenico said, explaining that Hudspeth will return at the end of the summer to collect and relocate most of the new bees.

“He is going to send some to the Caribbean to start some colonies there,” he said.

In the meantime, Alexis is hoping her brothers, Nicolas, 16 and Sasha, 13, will work with her on the sweet summer project that will have a positive impact on the local environment.

“Everything we grow the bees help pollinate,” she said. “Without the bees, we’re nothing.”


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