City staff are all a buzz about the newest residents making their home at the Waste and Recycling Centre. As part of an agreement with ECCO Recycling, the operators of the Materials Recovery Facility, 10 honey bee hives and up to 50 bee boxes have been added at the facility.
"ECCO approached us to see if they could bring in some bees," says Steve Rozee, the City of Lethbridge's Waste and Recycling Centre Manager. "It is something they do in other communities and we thought it was a great way to use our space to further promote environmentally friendly initiatives."
ECCO Recycling has a full time beekeeper and other support staff to manage hives in six different locations including Aldersyde, Balzac, Dalemead, Mazeppa, Calgary (Quarry Park) and Lethbridge.
"Landfills are generally regarded as a place to take trash," says Alec McDougall, President of ECCO Recycling. "Bees provide a different perspective on a waste management facility. It makes people reconsider their views and shows that the facility can be a very positive part of the community."
The average production per colony in Alberta is approximately 58kg of honey per year. ECCO Recycling owns the equipment to extract, process and bottle the honey which is typically donated or given away. In Lethbridge, ECCO will keep half of the honey and the other half will be provided to the City to be given away.
The Waste and Recycling Centre is an ideal place for the bees as it has a large grassed footprint providing an environment where pollen and nectar can be readily collected. The City is in the process of enhancing this even further with an upcoming landscaping initiative that will include plants, grasses and trees that benefit the bees.
Bees also need large quantities of water to thrive. Most landfills, including Lethbridge's Waste and Recycling Centre, have stormwater ponds to meet this need.
With the addition of the recently renovated Blue Sky Centre, the City is working on providing more community education at the Waste and Recycling Centre, including information about the important role of bees in our eco system.
"We're really excited to introduce the community to this new initiative and to use the bees as a way to open up important conversations with residents about the environment," says Rozee. "We have a great partnership with ECCO Recycling and we're thankful they are willing to share their expertise with us."
ECCO Recycling has committed to managing bees at the City's Waste and Recycling Centre for a minimum of five years. So far, the Lethbridge bees have been very productive and are thriving at the Waste and Recycling Centre.
If you want to know more about the importance of bees and what you can do to support them, visit the Helen Schuler Nature Centre's pollinator exhibit available until October 2019.
Communications Consultant, City of Lethbridge