We had the pleasure of getting to know Alvéole, an Urban Beekeeping Company based in Toronto. Their goal is to help people and organizations instal and care for urban honeybee colonies. Alvéole is first and foremost a labor of love, launched in 2012 by three friends from Montreal: Alex, Declan and Étienne who took on the mission of pursuing their passion for bees at home, in Montréal, having spent many years as beekeepers in Manitoba.
1. Tell us about Alvéole and how it started.
Alvéole is an urban beekeeping company that focuses on education, community building, and local honey production. Founded by three friends from Montreal, Alvéole takes all the principles learned through working at a rural apiary in Manitoba and applies them in dynamic new ways to the urban landscape. Four years later, with hives in Montreal, Quebec, and Toronto, they have connected thousands of people to honeybees and the essential services they provide just by living alongside us.
2. What have you found to be the most successful marketing tactic to build your brand?
Alvéole started out small and grew mostly through word-of-mouth. Our goal has always been to invite people into the world of the bees, so we owe our success to the positive experiences and beautiful products we create. A colony of 50,000 honeybees can seem like a frightening thing to people who have never experienced them before, so much of our marketing is simply allaying these fears. To that end, our website is possibly our most important tool; it is simple, beautiful, and informative.
3. What social platform do you most like to engage with your community?
Facebook is where we share our stories and connect our team and our bees to a wider audience.
4. How important are partnerships? How does Alvéole approach partnerships?
Partnerships are essential; we simply couldn’t do what we do without collaborations. Our service is unique, dynamic, and always intersecting with different operations in the city. Working with other groups, we gain allies to spread the word about us, who also challenge and motivate us to find different approaches to what we do. It’s inspiring!
5. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to work 24/7, weather extreme highs and lows, and learn more than you ever thought it was possible to learn in a given year.
6. How does Alvéole educate the community?
We educate the community through as many methods as we can manage, starting on our website, where visitors can watch high-quality instructional videos that take them through the entire beekeeping season, or read articles on more advanced topics relating to bees. Then, through our beekeeping services, we educate people one-on-one at the hive, providing hands-on experience all summer long. We supplement this with the classes, workshops, and conferences at schools and organizations throughout the city, and top it off with pop-up honey tasting events in the spring and fall.
7. How do you market a niche product?
We’re lucky because our “niche product” happens to be innately fascinating, so our main marketing objective is simply to pique people’s curiosity.
8. What is unique to Alvéole?
We are the only service in Montreal, Quebec City, or Toronto that offers a hands-on beekeeping education in your own backyard. Our main focus is on education, and no one else connects schools, organizations, and communities to honeybees like we do.
9. If you had to define your brand using 3 personality traits, what would they be and why?
Social, resourceful, and creative, just like our bees!
10. What’s in the future for Alvéole?
For now, we are focusing on developing our service in Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto, and on collaborating with other groups in the city to create unique spaces for people to experience what urban agriculture has to offer.