College's honey yield to double thanks to additional rooftop hives

Rooftop beehives, Notre Dame CampusDouble the hives, and double the expected yield: That’s the buzz on the first day of honey extraction from Red River College’s newest rooftop beehives.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural urban beekeeping project, the College has expanded its partnership with Beeproject Apiaries by adding three new hives to its roster this summer.

As they did last year, bees have been hard at work producing honey atop the fourth floor of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, as well as at the newly installed hives on the roof of Building A at the Notre Dame Campus. Combined, the six hives will produce an estimated yield of 150 kilograms.

Having the hives on campus gives students and staff to see the College’s sustainability mandate in action. Not only are bees vital to food production in North America, they also promote biodiversity within cities and provide opportunities for people to learn about nature and our food systems.

“A lot of our staff have been interested in visiting the bees and learning about the work they do,” says Sara MacArthur, RRC’s Manager of Sustainability. “Having the hives on our rooftops downtown and at the Notre Dame Campus encourages that kind of accessible learning about what bees do for the environment and the benefits to creating a natural product on campus.”

This year, RRC students and staff were invited to vote on a new name for the Notre Dame Campus honey. The winning name, Creekside Honey, was inspired by Omand’s Creek, which runs along the edge of the campus grounds and through Brookside Cemetery. The creek’s banks are home to a variety of wild plants, flowers and wildlife, and are likely a popular place for the RRC bees to collect pollen.

The resulting honey is bottled to Canadian Federal Inspection Agency standards and will be returned in a few weeks to RRC, where it’ll be used by students in the Culinary Arts program and sold at the second annual Farmers’ Market on Sept. 15.

“We hope students and staff who purchase our campus-made honey stop and think for a second about how amazing it is that this delicious product was made right here,” says MacArthur. “Forget the 100-mile diet, this is the 100-metre diet.”

Bees thrive in urban settings because of the added opportunities for pollination, and the protection from wind provided by buildings. Beeproject Apiaries reps say the fields surrounding the Notre Dame Campus make it an ideal location for honey production.

“Our partnership with Red River College was a natural fit from the beginning — two organizations committed to education and sustainability,” says Beeproject co-founder Chris Kirouac (shown above). “We’re thrilled with the success of the urban hive expansion to the Notre Dame Campus, where — as the Creekside Honey name suggests — there is an ideal environment for honeybees to thrive.”

The College’s partnership with Beeproject Apiaries is slated to continue in 2018.