(Photos By: Julia Hendrickson)
I was so honoured to be asked to partner with Vaughan Mills to spread the word about an amazing initiative they’re taking part in.
Vaughan Mills is located in the very busy city of Vaughan, Ontario. I grew up in Vaughan and the changes it has gone through over the past 20 years has left it unrecognizable. It’s great to live in a developed city but it is hard to see all of the natural landscape that once was here disappear. The folks at Vaughan Mills wanted to do their part and promote a sustainable development in this booming city by using their free roof space to house 4 beehives.
Urban beekeeping contributes to increasing local honey production, through pollination and provides a greener urban setting. Without pollination, a lot of our food like fruit, vegetables and nuts wouldn’t grow. A third of our food supply relies on their pollination! Vaughan Mills’ mission is to increase the general population’s awareness about bees and their essential role for the environment.
This project is in collaboration with Alveole, a social company specializing in urban apiculture. Their goal is to change the urban landscape of Canadian cities, one beehive at a time. They are in charge of maintaining the hives and harvesting the honey at Vaughan Mills.
I was honoured to be included in their very first honey harvest this year. One beehive produces around 10-15 kilos of honey annually – Vaughan Mills has four beehives on the rooftop above the H&M. It’s incredible that one beehive houses approximately 50,000 bees so Vaughan Mills’ is home to about 200,000 honey bees! And, they have the potential to harvest up to 60 kilos of honey!
If you live in Vaughan, you will be happy to know that all of your gardens helped to make this happen because a forager bee will travel up to 5 kilometers (sometimes more) to forage for honey. So, they helped your garden and you helped them!
The harvesting process was very interesting to watch. They calmed the bees first by using natural essential oils so the bees would move downward in the hive leaving the top bunker’s (where the honey is) bee free. Of course there is always a few stubborn stray bees so they lightly brush them off. I got to hold a panel of the hive where the honey was stored and it was so heavy! The beekeepers told us that this hive was very successful. They take the honey with them to their facility and clean off the pollen and any other particles that have made their way into the hive and honey. And then, they bottle it up. I documented the harvest in a short vlog – check it out here on my YouTube Channel.
Vaughan Mills will get their honey in October, after it has been cleaned up and packaged by Alveole (the honey will be raw and pure – they don’t process it.) They haven’t decided what they will do with their honey yet – there are talks about selling it and donating the proceeds to a charity. I think it is amazing that Vaughan Mills is raising awareness about the importance of honey bees and their important role in sustainable development and that they are looking at ways to give even more back to those in need through a donation.
I put together a short video while taking part in the honey harvest — Take a look!
To do your part, spread the word about urban beekeeping and keep planting your gardens for those busy bees!