As part of Sierra’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, a new initiative has recently been launched to help Sierra’s local environment in Ville St-Laurent, Quebec. Part of what is making the project such a buzz, is well… an actual real buzz! You see, Sierra (with the help of urban apiary Alvéole MTL) now owns and services 2 large bee hives which are home to over 100 000 honey bees!
You may ask why is this an “environmental project”; how do Honey bees help the environment? Honey bees are CROSS-POLLINATORS. Pollination is, quite simply, transferring grains of pollen from one plant to another, to fertilize the ovaries of flowers. While some plants rely on wind to provide pollination, and others are self-pollinating, most flowering plants need the services of natural pollinators, such as honeybees, to do the work. So important are honeybees as pollinators that many farmers will pay beekeepers to have hives located on their land. By using honeybees as pollinators, crop yields can be increased by as much as 300%. Local crops such as canola, alfalfa, and sunflower benefit immensely from the use of honeybees as pollinators. A good pollination system is part of a healthy eco-system.
Honey Bee populations are currently in massive decline. There are many theories about what is causing bee populations to decline, but the largely accepted theory is the use of pesticides in large agriculturally zoned areas. Though the jury is still out on what exactly is causing the extinction, the urgency of finding a stop gap solution cannot wait. The good news is that the urban landscape is actually a very safe habitat for bees! Because of strict municipal pesticide regulations coupled with an abundance of flower varieties, (as opposed to rural areas where there are acres upon acres of the same type of plants) cities can provide an idyllic refuge for honeybees. This is where an urban apiary, or bee keeper, such as Alvéole MTL comes into play.
Another great benefit of maintaining Honey bee hives is of course the delicious honey! Because the Honey bees are pollinating local plants and flowers in the direct vicinity, the raw honey actually contains particles of local pollen. These local pollens can actually act as antibodies and help build up the immune response to those who suffer allergies, a process called immunotherapy. What’s more is that local honey tastes delicious! Rather than your simple Clover or Blueberry honey, this locally produced urban honey contains a whole range of flower pollens that contribute to a wonderfully complex and rich flavor with many aromatic notes.
With the help of Alvéole, anyone in the Greater Montreal Region can host Honey bee hives at an urban location of their choice, and Alvéole MTL offers to also come and maintain the hives to ensure their health and happiness. Check out this video to find out more. This is all part of a beautiful new movement to create natural spaces within urban environments, a new and fresh idea that Alvéole and other pioneering companies like Lufa Farms are bringing to life.
For more information on the plight of the bee, check out this great Bee resource, buzzaboutbees.net.