Urban sustaina-bee-lity in downtown Edmonton

With so many exciting upcoming projects, it’s been a busy, jam-packed summer at the office, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get the chance for some fun in-bee-tween!

In July, we brought out our bells and helmets on the Urban Beekeeping Bike Tour, put on by MacEwan’s Office of Sustainability. For a day threatened by stormy rain clouds, we were nothing but honey-sweet smiles as we pedalled through Edmonton and learned about everyone’s favourite pollinator.

Alberta Emerald Foundation Staff Selfie

From left to right: Interim Executive Director Gregory Caswell, Summer Student Celina Vipond, and Communications & Outreach Manager Emma Crandell

The first stop was the Edmonton Convention Centre, where Beekeeper Patricia Milligan was thrilled to teach us about the city’s urban beekeeping program. The Convention Centre is deeply committed to sustainability, and it shows! We loved getting up close and personal with the bees, who produce over 45 pounds of honey each year, as well as watching “Bee TV”, the peaceful buzzing of these pollinators pollinatin’. The Centre’s culinary team utilizes the signature honey, which has a minty undertone because of the catmint planted as a part of their sustainable permaculture, for catering events.

Beekeeper Patty Milligan showing us the best channel for Bee TV

Beekeeper Patricia Milligan showing us the best channel on Bee TV

Next stop was MacEwan, located in the heart of downtown Edmonton, for some rooftop buzz. Resident Urban Beekeeper Troy Donovan, who also generously volunteered at this year’s Emeralds, says that food sustainability is an important factor in this project. Like the Convention Centre, MacEwan is dedicated to sustainability, having achieved a silver campus designation from the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS). Last year, they produced over 77 litres of honey, sold and used on-campus, with the proceeds invested back into the project. We were even lucky enough to even take home a sample! Learn more about the rooftop bees and food security at MacEwan by checking out their upcoming events.

Troy Donovan, Resident Urban Beekeeper at MacEwan

Troy Donovan, Resident Urban Beekeeper at MacEwan

On the last leg of the journey, we cycled to the Northlands Urban Farm: home to a flock of hens, a vegetable and herb garden, tree nursery, worm compost, and of course, a hive of honey bees and solitary bee hotels.

Did you know? Social bees, including honey bees, make honey and wax within their hive, and are ruled by a queen. A Bee-yoncé, if you will (I’ll pause for your groan). Social bees sting when their hive is in danger. Solitary bees live alone, don’t swarm, and rarely sting.

Dustin Bajer, leader of the Beekeeping Project Youth Club, and his team of keen kiddos let us get cozy with their hives and shared their passion about the importance of bees to our ecosystem. While we kept our distance, we were impressed with the youths’ hands-on approach, fearlessness, and love for the bees. This free, formative club is open to junior and senior high school students, aged 12-17, so keep your eyes peeled for open registration, coming in September!

Up close and personal with the honey bees

Up close and personal with the honey bees

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