Honeybees are the newest residents on campus.
Interested Hospitality and Tourism students at SAIT will be able to help with a honey harvest this fall, since honeybees took up residence on the rooftop of the John Ware Building on June 7.
The four hives have already yielded some honey for a taste test, and Chef Instructor Andrew Hewson says there should be enough to sell limited quantities in the Marketplace and the 4Nines.
“We expect to get about 27 kilograms with this first harvest,” says Hewson, who spearheaded the beekeeping project.
LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT
With an ever-increasing population of locavores and foodies in Calgary, there are profits to be made with locally-produced honey, but marketing opportunities are not what attracted Hewson to rooftop beekeeping.
Hewson is raising a beehive on campus for the same reason he planted Jackson’s Garden in 2010 — to help propagate a healthier, more sustainable relationship with food within Calgary and beyond.
Just as working in the garden helps culinary students understand what it truly takes to fill a plate with beautiful food, the honeybee project will give them a deeper perspective on the intricate process that makes food possible in the first place.
“Practically all the fruits and vegetables we eat must be pollinated to survive,” says Hewson. “Bees are crucial to our whole ecosystem.”
Hewson says learning tools like the beehive help make SAIT a leader in culinary training.
“If we can expose our students to all this before they get into the industry, my feeling is that they are going to be more connected to the food, to the process and to the ingredients,” says Hewson. “That’s going to strengthen our industry and the local food movement in Calgary.”
PARTNERING TO ACHIEVE PERFECTION
Hewson has aspired to bring honeybees to the SAIT campus since 2010. This year, with help from Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS), he teamed up with an industry partner and made it happen.
Members of the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association are supplying time and expertise in exchange for data collected on the John Ware rooftop.
Aja Horsley, Principal Investigator for Urban Agriculture — a new research group in ARIS — is helping deliver results that will help strengthen the industry partner’s processes.
“There are a lot of factors that we’re tracking — temperature, winds, shade,” says Horsley. “We are helping to establish some best practices for rooftop beekeeping.”