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Vancouver Convention Centre adds Speaker Repair Services, and Why I Love Bees

March 14, 2012

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at an event at the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC). Well, wouldn’t you know it, I woke up the morning of my session literally speechless. That’s right – laryngitis. I wish I had a good story about what caused the laryngitis, but there’s not much to say… I wasn’t out partying with rock stars, though maybe a few too many Little Mermaid sing-alongs with my 4 year old may have been a contributing factor.

Anyway… back to what happened… I decided to give the event organizers a quick heads up that I was on my way, but that my voice was pretty rocky. I arrived about an hour and half before my scheduled talk, and worked my way over to the coffee station. There I found not just coffee, but a great selection of tea and honey from the VCC’s very own bee hives. After sipping tea for a good 45 minutes, I decided to test my voice… and… it squeaked! This was a huge improvement over the lack of sound that was coming out earlier that day. When I met the VCC team members, they greeted me with great kindness, tea and a sound expert that I can confirm is a wizard with a mic. My voice was far from perfect, but I think it was at least understandable! I give full credit to the VCC bees for this rapid improvement.

So why does the VCC keep bees on the roof? Well, when I googled researched “bees and roof” I mostly came up with pest control ads. And yet, bees are critical for sustainability, and for pollinating the crops we depend on. Perhaps my favourite quote about bees is from one of the TED talks I have rewatched the most:

“It’s said that for bees, the flower is the fountain of life, and for flowers bees are the messengers of love.”
– Dennis vanEngelsdorp

In the talk, leading apiarist vanEngelsdorp also points out that bees are directly or indirectly responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food that we eat. He also raises serious concerns about colony collapse disorder – and how bees are dying in droves.

All of this leads me to my top 5 list of why I love bees:

  1. Honey is a sustainable and ethical sweetener: For a great analysis on this issue, read this article from the Canadian Honey Council, where they reference a Swedish study comparing the environmental impact of honey and other sweets, including chocolate and sugar using life cycle analysis methodology.
  2. The worldwide economic impact of insect pollination is estimated at $217 Billion USD: And most of this is from bees! I find this to be astounding, but the numbers are all here courtesy of ScienceDaily.
  3. Urban beekeeping increases harvests for backyard, street, rooftop and community gardens: When facilities like the VCC install beehives, it benefits the surrounding neighbourhood. You can read more about this on the City of Vancouver’s website, along with this funny soundbite “Honeybees will only sting humans if they are on the defensives. Wasps on the other hand, are aggressive carnivores and will sting as they hunt for food.”
  4. Bees communicate using waggle dances: It’s true. Karl von Frisch won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on how bees communicate the location of food sources.
  5. Honey is delicious: I like it in my tea, on ice cream, on pancakes, with apple slices, with cheese slices, on toast with peanut butter, and oddly perhaps, on scrambled eggs.

Thanks again to the amazing team at the VCC, including the bees!

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