We are creating a new, iconic facility for honey bee education, research, advocacy and outreach. It will be a destination; a place of excellence in design, function and research. All in support of the future of honey bees.
What is the Honey Bee Research Centre project?
The Honey Bee Research Centre (HBRC) is a state-of-the-art research and education/outreach centre dedicated to all aspects honey bee health and well-being.
Why honey bee research?
The value of honey bees is well documented as is the global decline in their health. The pollination that honey bees provide is a vital link in the production of food for humans and other species. Factors that put the honey bee population at risk include parasites, pathogens, pesticide use and loss of habitat. Fortunately, there is a growing interest in protecting the honey bee to reverse these health trends.
Why a new facility?
The current HBRC, operating in the Townsend House on Stone Road East, is performing world-class research in a sub-standard facility. Originally designed as a residence, the 3,500 sq. ft. building has reached its capacity in providing suitable spaces for research, education and honey/beeswax processing. The current building also lacks barrier-free accessibility and space for public outreach.
Can you briefly describe the new HBRC?
The new HBRC will be a 15,000 sq.ft facility that contains spaces for research, production and outreach programs. It will serve as a demonstration facility for best practices in commercial beekeeping and honey production, enable world class research on honey bee health, and act as a vehicle for increased community outreach and public education.
Where will the new HBRC be located?
The new HBRC building will be located on a former U of G Physical Resources tree nursery east of the main campus near the corner of Stone Road East and Victoria Road.
Will new HBRC be on Arboretum lands?
The HBRC site sits within the Physical Resources area, adjacent to the Arboretum lands, so is not part of the Arboretum.
How will the new HBRC impact existing vegetation on the site?
In consultation with Dougan and Associates, the University’s environmental advisor and Arborist and other specialist consultants, the site plan of the HBRC project was designed to return the site to its naturalized state as much as possible. As a former tree nursery, existing planting on the site consists of multiple trees planted in single species rows. The building siting, design and grading strategies are intended to minimize disturbance to the natural topography, trees and existing buildings to protect the legacy and existing ecology of the site. For example, measures were taken to maximize the retention of existing vegetation such orienting the building along the topography to minimize site disturbance and special consideration was given to avoid large, high-quality native species such as an 80cm (DBH) Bur Oak on the north portion of the site.
How many trees will be impacted to build the new HBRC?
Of the 624 trees inventoried, 506 will be preserved and 85 will need to be removed to make way for the building, associated parking and storm water retention area. The arborist also identified 32 previously injured trees (shown in yellow on the TIPP) for which mitigation measures will be employed to allow the greatest opportunity for survival and health during construction and for the long term.
How will the University compensate for the loss of vegetation?
As part of the project, the Arborist developed a Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP) for the planting of 75 trees and 36 tree & shrub modules (containing 50 tree whips and shrubs in each module for a total of 1750 plants for all modules).
Tell me more about the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP).
The purpose of the VCP is to offset the removals required to build the Honey Bee Research Center and to satisfy tree removal compensation requirements of both the City of Guelph and the University of Guelph. Furthermore, the VCP “naturalizes” the former Physical Resources tree nursery by improving both the quality and quantity of native vegetation on the site.
What are some of the other benefits of the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP)?
Given the purpose of the HBRC facility, the focus of the VCP is on plant species that support high numbers of pollinators, as well as those supporting specialized species. Replacement trees will be native species with few known diseases or pest problems and will come from local sources including the Arboretum nursery. In addition, plant species will be chosen from a range of successional stages in order to bolster and accelerate the natural restoration of the area.
Will the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP) impact the adjacent wooded and wetland areas?
The location of plantings in the VCP will help prevent encroachment into the adjacent wooded area, protect the internal wetland and enhance the existing hedgerow (identified as a linkage by the City of Guelph) by expanding its width.
What does the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP) include around the HBRC building?
The VCP includes landscape buffers and accent landscaping around the HBRC facility providing enhanced pollination opportunities for honey bees in the area.
When will the tree removal take place and will any birds be affected?
In order to mitigate impacts on protected migratory birds, tree clearing is planned for the month of March 2023—prior to the nesting season. If this window for tree clearing is not feasible, a search of the potentially affected areas will occur prior to construction to ensure that nesting is not taking place. This search will be performed by a qualified avian biologist. If no active nests or signs of breeding activity are observed, a report will be filed as part of the project record. If active nests are found, their location will be reviewed with the project team to establish an appropriate strategy to avoid disturbance until nesting is completed.
How will the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP) be monitored and enforced?
The Arborist, along with the Construction Manager and Consultants for the project, will be monitoring tree removal as part of the contract administration for the project. The VCP will also be referenced in a Tree Permit and embedded in the Site Plan Agreement with the City of Guelph, so monitoring and enforcement will also be provided by University and City staff.
How was the Arboretum involved in the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP)?
While the Physical Resources grounds nursery has never been part of The Arboretum, the Arborist and design team engaged consistently with Arboretum staff for their guidance and knowledge regarding Arboretum collections planning, tree preservation strategies, planting and future connections to the existing trail Arboretum network.
When will the compensation vegetation be planted?
The plantings for the Vegetation Compensation Plan (VCP) will take place after the construction of the building foundation, parking area and storm water retention area and during the most favourable season for the individual plants. The site works for the project are slated for completion during the Fall of 2024.