Alberta is one of the largest honey producing regions in the world with over 600,000 colonies of bees divided amongst 7,000 beekeepers. Yet Eliese Watson, a native of the prairies, says that modern day residents of Calgary have lost touch with the surrounding agricultural lifestyle.
Bees, she says, are an easy way for urbanites to reconnect with nature. That’s why in 2010, she started an urban beekeeping company, ABC Apiaries, with a $5,000 grant. Seven years later, she has 60 colonies, and produces over 2,000 pounds of honey in a year. But it’s not the traditional honey production; her hives are scattered throughout the city, on rooftops, in urban spaces, and in backyards.
“In my head, it’s like a non-profit, where we just focus on getting people comfortable with beekeeping and urban hives. But I run it as a company,” she says, seated at one of Calgary’s hippest coffee shops.