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Our first #EatAlbertaFirst dinner – a honey-themed feast at Rouge in honour of our beekeepers Apiaries and Bees for Communities

We are celebrating!

For six summers now, we’ve kept two beehives with the help of our mentor Eliese Watson the founder of Apiaries and Bees for Communities . Five years ago we moved the bees to the garden of our business partner Rouge Restaurant in Inglewood and both the garden and the bees are better for it.

Rouge owners Paul Rogalski and Olivier Reynaud say that the bees have clearly doubled the pollination and harvest yield of their garden. Last year, we harvested 80 pound of honey from our two hives and left that much more for the bees to overwinter on. Beekeeping is a skill that requires mentoring.


As president of Alberta Food Tours, I was moved to start keeping bees when I heard that although large commercial scale bees were suffering colony collapse disorder, urban bees, with far greater biodiversity of plants to forage on and less pesticide usage in cities, were actually doing better. Around the same time I discovered this, Eliese Watson started up an Urban Beekeeping Mentorship program. She was looking for corporate sponsors who would pay for hives that she could use to teach her beekeeping students on. I was in!

Eliese no longer runs that program but in large part, due to her efforts, Calgary now has over 400 backyard beekeepers. A few of her students have even gone on to create careers in beekeeping.

The past few summers Eliese has been focused on mentoring ME so that I will be able to takeover the care of our Alberta Food Tours hives. Let’s just say, I’m a slow learner!

I’m getting better all the time, but there are so many scenarios when you look into the interior of a hive to assess its health that I dread the day she is not at my side. Still, we live in the days of social media and texting and when it comes to caring for bees, Eliese and many other capable people are willing to help in the long run. Thanks to a Community Hive Collaborative Purchase program she set up, I can also buy equipment and Alberta-raised queens and nucs.

Eliese’s main work now is bee education for schools and beekeepers. She is in high demand all over the province and country and is also recognized internationally for her organic sustainable methods of beekeeping.

Time to party!

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of Eliese Watson’s company Apiaries and Bees for Communities. Since honey is one of Alberta’s signature foods and Rouge does such a great job of using it to accent so many delicious dishes, we decided to throw a honey-themed dinner celebration of all things bees, honey and the great collaborative partnership of our three businesses. We surely have a hive mentality!

Please consider joining us. Here are the details:

Wednesday, July 24

6:30 p.m. – cocktails in the Rouge garden
7 p.m. – four-course meal served under the tent

Tickets: $150/person (beverages included)

Host: Alberta Food Tours’ president Karen Anderson (that’s me!)

Honoree: Eliese Watson of ABCbees – she’ll provide a demonstration hive and honeycomb tasting to start the evening.

Dinner: Rouge’s chef de cuisine Darnell Japp will present a 4-course, honey-themed feast.

Beverage pairings: (included in the price) Fallen Timber MeaderyChinook Arch MeaderyBurwood Distillery and Eau Claire Distillery.

Limited tickets available; purchase yours today as they will sell fast.