Bee-friendly Komoka jar store generating lots of buzz

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Bees are creating a buzz in a new pot shop on the outskirts of London.

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Bees are creating a buzz in a new pot shop on the outskirts of London.

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In an effort to save bees, Neat Cannabis Co. Ltd. set up a beehive outside its Komoka store to educate customers about the insect’s rapidly declining population.

It may be the first cannabis retailer in Ontario or Canada to have a live beehive on their property, according to Neat brand manager Leeanna Newton.

“This has never been done before in a cannabis retail space, which we are aware of, so we are really proud of it,” she said.

“The project is more than an eco-initiative that would create an imprint of social responsibility,” Newton said. “We wanted something that our clients and our team can engage in and directly benefit the community. “

The 1-hive project was created in collaboration with a local beekeeper, a pot accessories company and developer Norquay Property Management Ltd.

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Neat Cannabis Co.’s Komoka Store 1 Beehive Project is home to over 35,000 bees. Neat says it could be the first Canadian pot retailer to operate a beehive on their property. (Calvi Leon / The London Free Press)

Neat’s store located at 9952 Glendon Dr. opened last month, about six months after its store opened in London. They are one of over 1,000 licensed cannabis retail stores in Ontario.

The large 1 beehive sign on the grassy ground next to the beehive is hard to miss.

Bees are responsible for one in three mouthfuls of food, from sugar and coffee to apples and nuts, but one in three bees may not survive next year due to environmental and human pressures, namely pesticides, Newton said.

Customers are encouraged to learn more about declining bee populations by reading a brochure and visiting the hive after entering the store.

They can also contribute to the initiative. A portion of sales from Bzz Stash Boxes, bamboo containers for storing jars and pot accessories, go directly to bee conservation efforts, including 1-hive.

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“When I started (my business) I wanted to do something to give back,” said Jonny Sikkema, founder of London-based Bzz Box.

“If there was anything I wanted to contribute to, it was the environment,” he said. “I have children. They are going to have children one day. I want to make sure there is always a place to live for them.

The 1 Beehive effort was inspired by a Dutch project that turned the tops of bus stops into green roofs so that urban bees had a place to land, he said.

Neat Cannabis Co.'s Project 1 Beehive, created with the help of a local beekeeper, jar accessory retailer and developer, aims to educate customers about the rapidly declining population of the insect, according to the Komoka store.  (Calvi Leon / The London Free Press)
Neat Cannabis Co.’s Project 1 Beehive, created with the help of a local beekeeper, jar accessory retailer and developer, aims to educate customers about the rapidly declining population of the insect, according to the Komoka store. (Calvi Leon / The London Free Press)

After the City of London turned down a similar move, Sikkema partnered with Newton and Neat to start the Komoka Beehive Project.

Dan Heffernan, a commercial beekeeper who looks after the hive, said it is home to between 35,000 and 40,000 bees at this time of year – enough to pollinate nearly 7.8 billion flowers in three months.

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Heffernan, owner of Heff’s Hives in London, said the bees are in a prime location, far enough from neighboring properties but close enough to encourage customers and passers-by to find out more.

“Most of the commercial beehives are where people can’t see them. . . We want to bring (beehives) from the back of the farm to your sidewalk, ”he said. “I want people to understand and stand up with these two organizations for bees (and) pollinators in general.”

The 1 hive project operates all year round, with the population decreasing in winter and regenerating again in spring. The store offers an EpiPen for people with allergies to bee stings in an emergency.

Since launching in August, the project has garnered positive feedback from customers, residents and the wider cannabis community, Newton said. “Within a week, we were getting comments and reactions (from) all the way to Zimbabwe, Cyprus, Switzerland, England, who wanted to participate in the project or adopt pieces of it.”

Now, Neat is calling on cannabis retailers across Canada to follow his lead.

“It costs around $ 3 a day, but it has a huge impact on the community as well. . . environment, ”Newton said. “It’s a fun and educational piece, and there is a clear line of sight for the community to see its effects.”

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Twitter.com/CalviatLFPress

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

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