Laureen Harper tours Fairmont Royal York Hotel’s Rooftop Pollinator Bee Initiative / by Michael Mazurkiewicz

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen, is either very brave, very comfortable around bees, or a bit of both.

Harper was at Toronto’s Royal York hotel Sunday to visit the rooftop garden and beehive. Without hesitation she walked right over to the bee enclosure as Executive Chef Collin Thornton removed the cinder block. And then Harper showed her strength.

As Thornton was ducking, swiping his hands around his head and running away, Harper calmly blew on the enclosure, adjusted the cover and walked away.

While Harper was stung, the bees seemed to really be after Thornton. Everyone else was standing round sipping water and taking pictures, but in the video you can see Thornton still trying to prevent the bees from stinging him.

And there may be good reason for some of Harper’s comfort. The Prime Minister’s Office said her father raised bees on the family farm.

The rooftop bee hive is part of an initiative between the hotel and Burt’s Bees, SUSTAINABLE.TO Architecture + Building and Pollinator Partnership Canada to help preserve Canada’s bee population.

According to a Canadian Living article from June, a bee hotel is needed because the Canadian bee population is on a rapid decline and that’s a problem because the tiny animals contribute an estimated $1 billion to our agricultural industry by pollinating plants. The bees have been living on the hotel roof since 2008 and produce more than 800 pounds of honey each year, much of which is used in the hotel kitchen.