By Charlie Senack –
There will definitely be a buzz around Carlingwood Shopping Centre this spring.
For the third year in a row, Carlingwood management will be installing a beehive on the roof, with the intention of creating honey to sell in the fall. All proceeds raised by the project are donated to the Ottawa Food Bank.
It’s part of a bigger initiative the mall refers to as ACT (Always Consider Tomorrow). It’s a way to give back to the community while trying to help the environment.
“We are part of the community so when they are with us, we want to be with them,” says Nathalie Lavergne, marketing director at Carlingwood. “Our managers love challenges and they like to make sure that we can leave as much of a green footprint as we can.”
The idea to put beehives on the roof initially came from one of Nathalie’s colleagues, who took part in a similar project while working at a shopping centre in Quebec City.
After Carlingwood got on board with the beehive project, other shops and businesses in Ottawa followed suit, including Billings Bridge Shopping Centre.
“Our objective was to have fun and be green, but we saw an opportunity to sell our honey and make it a fundraising opportunity,” says Nathalie.
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The beehives come from a Montreal-based company called Alvéole, also known as the Urban Beekeeping Company. Nathalie says the firm is made up of about 20 beekeepers that specialize in beekeeping for office, retail and commercial buildings. She says staff from Alvéole travel from Montreal to Ottawa periodically to check on the bees and how the honey is producing.
“Every three weeks they come down from Montreal on their specific days [and] they open up the roof and show us where the queen bee is, how many frames of eggs we have and how many frames of honey we have,” says Nathalie.
The beehive houses around 20,000 bees, which come from an area that spans from the Britannia Conservation Area to Churchill Avenue North.
In order to make one pound of honey, one bee would have to fly around 90,000 miles — three times around the globe — and would need to gather nectar from two million flowers. That being said, one worker bee only produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
Last year the mall bottled up 100 jars of honey and sold them for $10 each at the guest services counter. On March 6, Carlingwood donated their profits – totalling $1,000 – to the Ottawa Food Bank.
The Ottawa Food Bank is the collection and distributions centre for 114 food programs across the city, and helps provide food to around 37,500 people every month.
The food bank says the spring and summer months is when they start to see a decline in food donations, and as a result they need to start using cash donations to purchase food.
“We are heading into a season that is traditionally low in donations, so now is when we start doing more spending,” says Samantha Ingram, communications coordinator for the Ottawa Food Bank.
“Cash donations go a long way for us so that’s why things like the beehive project Carlingwood did for us is so appreciated and so needed. We are able to turn a $1.00 [donation] into about $5.00 worth of food with that donation. We are really able to put our donor’s dollars to great work.”
Nathalie encourages mall shoppers to check the Carlingwood Shopping Centre website (carlingwood.com) to find out about all the bee-related events that will be happening in the Centre Court of the mall this summer.
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* This feature is brought to you in part by Catherine McKenna, MP Ottawa Centre.