Beekeeping in the urban landscape

September 30, 2016

“I’m more of a listener,” says Troy Donovan as he sits down to answer questions exclusively about himself. “But after a while—42 years in—it’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve done some stuff.’”

“Some stuff,” in addition to his day job as the learning systems application administrator for MacEwan University’s e-Learning Office, includes skydiving, scuba diving and an elaborate marriage proposal that involved fireworks.

And just recently, he became the certified beekeeper for Campus Services’ Urban Beekeeping Project.

The project started with a handshake between Troy and Kris Bruckmann, director of Campus Services: if Troy could put his personal hives on the roof of Building 5 along with the university’s, he would act as beekeeper for the project.

“I’ve always been curious about bees, and I really, really like honey,” he says. “I eat way too much of it.

Shortly after that initial handshake, the hives were built, the bees were ordered from New Zealand, and in May, four flow hives were placed on the roof of Building 5 at City Centre Campus.

Having grown up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Troy sees the project as an opportunity to bring some elements of farm life into an urban setting and to encourage the city-dwelling community of both MacEwan and Edmonton to “eat more dirt.”

Troy has been eating the proverbial dirt for a while now.

“One of my BHAGs—big, hairy, audacious goals—is to live to be 100 years old,” he says. “Part of that is to live a healthy, sustainable, environmental life.”

For Troy, that means he treats the environment the same way he treats his health: with utmost respect. He hopes to encourage people to be part of the ecosystem—and to be part of its balance—and to avoid simply pulling from it and relying on it, but to also give back to it.

By pursuing this kind of lifestyle, Troy hopes to contribute to the creation of a world his three children will be happy to live in.

“Fourteen years ago when I had my first daughter, I knew I needed to make the world a better place for her,” he says. “When my kids get to be 30 or 40 years old, are they going to look back at me and go, ‘Jeez, why the hell didn’t you do something? What is wrong with you?’ Or, are they going to think their dad did everything he could?”

Is going after such a goal ambitious? Maybe. Optimistic? Probably. Necessary? Definitely.

For some, pursuing a sustainable and prosperous future might be a BHAG, but for Troy, it’s just something that needs to be done.

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