Since 2016, Toronto Community Housing and Alvéole have been partners in an exciting initiative that helps the environment and provides an educational and engaging activity for community members.
Urban apiaries, or bee yards, have been established on TCHC property throughout the city. Piloted in Gordon Ridge and expanded into Birchmount Eglinton and Cooper Mills, all three neighbourhoods now house active beehives.
Beehives at Cooper Mills
On August 4, members of the YouthWorx team and OUE staff were at Cooper Mills on with a member of the Alvéole team who came to check on the honeybees. Overcoming the fear of getting stung was challenging, but a few people were brave enough to get close to the creatures.
Madison from Alvéole outlining safety tips with John Kraljevic, OUE Manager, and Clint Vassell, RCS Coordinator
YouthWorx members getting ready to visit the hives
Staff and OUE members learning about the bees
Alvéole harvests the honey produced from the hives and gives it to the communities for fundraising and promotional use. Once the season has ended and harvest begins, a minimum of 10 kilograms of honey per hive is extracted.
Alvéole employees make site visits to maintain the hives throughout the year and inspect them during the active season. They also provide training during the hive inspections so community volunteers can learn to maintain the hives.
Laura Hammond, co-chair of the resident council at Birchmount Eglinton, has been involved from the beginning. "I like the training and that we can use the revenue we're able to generate to help our community." Using the skills she has learned through the program, she hopes to do more beekeeping in the future.
Chris and Abyan from YouthWorx holding a frame of bees and honey
One TCHC employee and one community volunteer oversee the coordination of the program for each community and organize volunteers, schedule site visits, trainings and any maintenance the hives may need.
At the end of August, harvesting will begin, leaving enough honey for the bees to survive the winter and giving TCHC communities a sweet treat for the fall.