Six historic Edmonton sites to be new home for bees for three-year pilot project


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Six historic sites across Edmonton will soon be buzzing as honeybees make them home sweet home for the next three years.

On Sunday, the Alberta Aviation Museum will receive two beehives as part of a three-year pilot project with YEG Honeycomb. Alberta Hospital Edmonton, Chancery Hall, Grierson Centre, Mercer Warehouse, and Old Man Creek Nursery will also each host hives as part of a sustainability initiative and to showcase the historic sites, said YEG Honeycomb founder Enessa Habib.

“I really appreciate our architectural heritage. I also appreciate anthropology, so the stories of our people across history and bringing people together,” Habib said.

“I thought that would be really cool, to have bees at historical buildings, and even more than that on certain rooftops as a way of showcasing this project.”

Habib has previously provided honeycomb from her hives to local restaurants such as Meuwly’s and Chartier.

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“There’s no better way to really showcase or feature that to Edmonton them through some of these talented local shops, who appreciate the beauty, the textures and the taste of the honeycomb. (They) would be able to introduce that to everyday people who otherwise might may not know what to do with it,” Habib said.

Honeycomb made from urban bees is different than those made in a rural setting. That’s because in an urban setting, bees have access to a much greater diversity of flowers. In a rural setting, bees might only be taking nectar from one crop.

“There’s a whole colourful spectrum of tastes that you would get,” she said. “They’re pollinating on things like dandelion, clover, some trees that are blossoming in season. It could be lilac.”

She will be offering a pre-order for the honeycomb made by the bees at each location.

Habib said her goal is to facilitate as much hands-on learning as possible. For example, she said the Alberta Hospital would like to get the patients evolved. Eventually, if expansion of the project allows, Habib said she would also like to employ members of vulnerable populations to help manage the hives.

“It kind of comes full circle where I’m originally offering mentorship, and then eventually, if these are people who are really committed to beekeeping and it’s something they like, it can provide them opportunities down the road,” she said.

The project is supported by the City of Edmonton and will help create guidelines for rooftop and non-residential beekeeping within the city.

“It’s a huge milestone for Edmonton, and for Canada,” Habib said. “The more precedents that we set, the more I think beekeeping in an urban setting becomes more widely accepted.”