On-campus honey harvest brings new meaning to local food movement at MacEwan
The long-awaited results of MacEwan University’s Urban Beekeeping Project have arrived, as Campus Services and the Office of Sustainability prepare to launch MacEwan Honey on campus December 8.
In their inaugural year, the four beehives on the roof of Building 5 produced over 35 kilograms of honey, and raised a significant amount of awareness for the benefits of beekeeping in the urban landscape. Now, the honey has been jarred and will be available to purchase for a limited time.
Kris Bruckmann, director of Campus Services, says MacEwan Honey is unique not only in where it comes from, but also in its taste, which has hints of florals and mint.
"There's a flavour difference between some of the first batches that we pulled compared to the last,” says Kris. “That’s because of flowers blooming at certain times and seasonal changes. Next year, we're going to split up our harvest into spring, summer and fall honey."
These three flavour profiles could change from year to year, depending on the urban areas the bees choose to pollinate, and Kris said his team looks forward to seeing how the product evolves.
Kalen Pilkington, director of the Office of Sustainability, highlights how honey is typically created in rural settings, where bees are often limited to pollinating only a few crops. MacEwan’s honey bees, however, have access to a variety of rosebushes, ornamental apple trees and several other plants within a four-kilometre radius of the campus.
In addition to the honey’s diverse mix of pollen, Kalen notes how the minimal carbon footprint of the project makes the honey quite unique.
"One of the really remarkable things about MacEwan Honey is that you can't get much more local than on top of your roof,” she says. “We're not even talking about a 100-mile diet at this point, so our food miles are next to nothing for our honey bees. They do all the hard work for us."
MacEwan Honey is in high demand this year, which is why its first sale will be limited to a one-day blitz in at Griffins Landing (December 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). In the future, however, each harvest will produce up to 68 kilograms of honey per season, giving more community members a chance to taste the product for themselves.
Proceeds from the honey sales will be returned to a food security fund, which will support food projects linked to sustainability on campus.
"We are committed to reinvesting into bettering food and sustainability on this campus,” says Kris. “The hope is the profits from the honey this year, and in subsequent years, can fund new and exciting projects."
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