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Lethbridge’s Waste and Recycling Centre buzzing with new inhabitants

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WATCH ABOVE: A partnership between the City of Lethbridge and ECCO Recycling sees the city’s Waste and Recycling Centre buzzing with almost half a million new inhabitants. Demi Knight reports – Aug 27, 2019

In an effort to generate more environmentally friendly practices in the city, 10 honeybee hives filled with almost half a million bees are now calling Lethbridge’s Waste and Recycling Centre home.

“We believe this facility is an environmental protection infrastructure and wherever possible, we want to not just protect the environment, but we want to enhance it,” said Steve Rozee, waste and recycling manager with the City of Lethbridge.

“This was a great opportunity for us, in a concrete way with our partners to do something that enhances the local environment and provides that very important habitat for the pollinators, that are so critical here in southern Alberta.”

READ MORE: Goats chomp down on invasive weeds this summer in Lethbridge

For this new initiative, the City of Lethbridge partnered with ECCO Recycling, a Calgary-based company that manages and operates five other hives across Alberta.

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The honeybees were first brought to Lethbridge in June and have already started to create quite the buzz at the facility, working hard to produce honey and pollinate the area.

“They’ve grown quite substantially,” said Robert McBain, owner of Worker and Bee Hive Supply Inc. and beekeeper for the Lethbridge hive.

“They would have come in just one box in June and they’ve filled four or five boxes each since.”

McBain said waste and recycling sites like Lethbridge’s are usually home to the perfect environment for beekeeping and honey production, with stormwater ponds and plenty of grasslands ripe with nectar and pollen.

“The bees can fill this box with about 60 pounds of honey in about a week with good conditions,” he said.

“It’s not uncommon for us to get about 200 pounds of honey from one colony in a season.”

WATCH BELOW: (August 2019) Pollinators in trouble

Click to play video: 'Pollinators in trouble' Pollinators in trouble
Pollinators in trouble – Aug 26, 2019

President of ECCO Recycling, Alec McDougall, said the presence of these hives also helps provide a more positive view of the work being done in landfills each day.

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“Bees provide a different perspective on a waste management facility,” McDougall said.

“It makes people reconsider their views and shows that the facility can be a very positive part of the community.”

The new initiative also helps create more public awareness on pollination, a process Jessica Deacon-Rogers, program coordinator at Helen Schuler Nature Centre, said is vital to food production across the globe.

“Without pollinators, we would have much less food globally than we actually currently do, and currently there’s actually a global crisis,” Deacon-Rogers said.

“There are much less pollinators in the world than there used to be for a wide variety of reasons, some of it is loss of habitat and some of it is loss of food sources,” she continued.

“So it’s really important in urban areas like a waste and recycling centre like this, but also in urban backyards to be able to create habitats and homes for those insects — so that we still have them in our community and they’re still providing those pollination services that we need in order to get food.”

READ MORE: Planting bee-friendly gardens can help bee populations in southern Alberta

The bees will be at Lethbridge’s Waste and Recycling Centre for a minimum of five years and ECCO recycling and the city will split the honey made during that time.

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Officials said they plan to donate the honey to different community groups and organizations, although they’re not sure yet where exactly the honey will be going once produced.

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