Bees: They’re Just Like Us

  • photo by Laura Lalonde.

The LSCA workshop was buzzing at Thursday’s Sustainability Street Fest, where beekeepers from Alvéole taught students the ins and outs of a newer, trendier form of activism: Urban Beekeeping.

Jars of honey cluttered the table as they handed out generous, goopy samples of their golden syrup on sticks. Alvéole partners Declan Rankin Jardin and Alex McLean were manning the booth with Emilie Usher, a Concordia fine arts student minoring in sustainability.

“The honey is from here,” Emilie explained, pointing to the label that read “Plateau”.
Urban hives are popping up everywhere from private residences to companies like Birks and Cirque du Soleil. In fact, Declan and Alex have gone from 30 to 130 hives in three years. But as the three good-looking, well-spoken young entrepreneurs fed me honey from their sleek, minimalist jars, I couldn’t help but ask: Why bees?

Declan Rankin Jardin (once a McGill student studying English Lit and Physics) grew up in Montreal, and took up beekeeping at Alex’s uncle’s farm in Manitoba one summer.

“It was strict,” he says, leaning casually on Reggie’s terrasse in a beige crew neck and shorts. “We had to wear those big white vests.” But it was the tiny networks of bees that fascinated Declan, as he began to draw interesting parallels. “You could say that city life, and the lives of bees are… Symbiotic?” he says, in a barely-noticeable French Canadian accent. And as I turn to watch Concordia students buzz from table to table on Mackay, I get what he means.

But Alvéole wanted to be different- bringing bee farming to a more sustainable, accessible level.

“Large-scale bee farming isn’t healthy,” says Emilie. “There are a lot of chemicals involved and the bees are poorly treated.” And so, with improvement in mind and a lot of passion, you could say the idea was pollinated. It only took a couple of pints, and Alvéole was born.

With an office in the Plateau and a booming business, these 23-year-olds have it made. And they’d love to have you, too.

“Come pop by, we can have some beers, and we’ll show you how a hive works,” Declan laughs.

Watch the tens of thousands of bees work together, and, as Emilie so gracefully put it, “become part of the hive, within a hive.”

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