Alvéole. Urban Beekeeping & Honey Company. Montreal.
Amazing honey-infused chemical-free soaps!
Alvéole harvests honey from the hives of different neighbourhoods around Montreal (South West & Plateau are staples!) offering slightly different tastes and aromas. Visit their site’s online shop HERE!
Alvéole is a young and inspiring Montreal-based Company, founded and run by my friends Alex McLean, Declan Rankin Jardin, and Etienne Lapierre. These passionate and hardworking entrepreneurs are committed to supporting the plight of the bees, by educating people about the important practice of small-scale, sustainable beekeeping. Alvéole’s primary service is setting up home hives, either on the roof, the balcony or in the yard, providing people with the opportunity to produce their own natural honey, while supporting the local honeybee population. The team offers ongoing guidance to beehive owners, and pay regular visits to the hives, to ensure that the bees are in good health. Come Fall, the team extracts the organic honey from each hive, about 10kg worth, which can be enjoyed and shared with friends and family. This experience of caring for a hive allows people to connect with nature, and appreciate the amazing world of honeybees!
Alex of Alvéole generously agreed to let me shadow him for the day, to learn more about honey production and beekeeping. I was welcomed to the Alvéole HQ, where I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on honey harvesting that they were giving to a group from Auccueil Bonneau. Then I accompanied Alex on a visit to a neighbourhood hive, where I had the chance to see the bees in action!
Tragically, the world’s bees are dying off at a disturbing rate, a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This name was developed in 2006, when beekeepers in North America and Europe began observing the mass decline of bee population. While the scientific community has yet to agree upon a single cause for CCD, they have identified numerous potential factors including: Pathogens and parasites, pesticides, monoculture, loss of habitat and environmental stressors, intensive/industrial beekeeping practices, and bee malnutrition. A growing body of research has found that one of the most significant causes of CCD is Neonicotinoids aka neonics, a common agricultural pesticide. Bees absorb this chemical when pollinating pesticide sprayed plants, carrying it back with them to the hive. The toxic chemicals spread throughout the colony, killing off the bees at a rapid rate. Neonics attack the bee’s nerve receptors, making them disoriented and unable to navigate back to their hive. Neonics act similarly to nicotine, causing the bees to become addicted to the chemical, just as humans get hooked to nicotine-laden cigarettes.
The European Food Safety Authority has found that neonics are not only lethal to bees, but also potentially harmful to human health – affecting the brain and nervous system. This has led to the recent banning of Neonics in the EU, however the US and Canada are still using this chemical pesticide. Neonics are not only sprayed on our food, but also on flowers that many of us buy and plant in our yards during the spring and summer months. While people are making the effort to plant bee-attracting flowers to support the honeybee population, if they are not buying non-sprayed flowers, they could actually be contributing to the problem. It is important to buy organic flowers and seeds from neonic-free nurseries and seed sources like Babylone Hydro-Organique in Montreal.
With rising concern over the global decline of bees, small-scale organic beekeepers like Alveole are especially important to our cities. The issue of ‘colony collapse’ poses a major threat to global food security, as honeybees are an integral part of the natural process of food production. In fact, bees are at the centre of the food chain – responsible for the pollination of at least one third of everything we consume including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. There are a number of things we as individuals and consumers can do to stop contributing to this problem. Buying organic food helps ensure the food we buy has not been sprayed with neonics and other pesticides that harm bees and other living things. We can also support small, sustainable beekeepers like Alvéole, rather than buying honey from large-scale commercial companies who use bee-harming methods of production.