Downtown Calgary

HowdYYC: Meet Vanessa Moll

by Calgary Downtown Association

To bee or not to bee downtown? If you ask urban apiarist Vanessa Moll, it's not even a question. Soaking up the best skyline views and working on healthy honeybee populations, Vanessa and her Alvéole team create experiences for Calgarians to uniquely engage with hives through honey tastings and educational programming. 

Centre city is abundant with native herbs and wildflowers such as gaillardia , blue flax and wild bergamot ; a perfect ecosystem for the hives atop downtown rooftops, balconies and in the gardens of office buildings and residential towers. Get to know more about beekeeper Vanessa in this week's HowdYYC and learn how Alvéole takes the sting out of the dwindling honeybee population across Canada.

Who is the most influential person in your life? 

I don’t think I have just one influential person. My immediate family is pretty close, so they’ve all influenced me in different ways. My sister and I are very close and so she probably influences me on a day-to-day basis, but my parents influenced me a lot in terms of who I am as a person because they had such a largely positive influence growing up. I was raised that you just do everything to the best of your ability and find what makes you happy, and they would just support us with whatever that was, which is so wonderful to have, especially since I recognize that that isn’t always the case.

If you could say one thing to everyone in Calgary right now, what would you say?

Keep strong and don’t give up, even if it sounds really cliche. It’s very easy at this point to have a negative perspective and think that all these rules aren’t worth it and aren’t helping, but there are a lot of people who are struggling, and if this is how bad it is with the protocols then it would be even worse otherwise. It’s obviously a really rough go right now, but the most important thing is to make sure everyone is as safe and healthy as possible and so don’t give up on the protocols, on yourself, on friends and family and just that I’m so proud of you all for pushing through.

What are you most afraid of right now?

There’s definitely an increased amount of time to reflect, which isn’t always the best because I’ve definitely gotten into the over thinking phase, so right now the uncertainty of everything is really getting to me. Not knowing when things are going to end obviously changes future plans like going back to school soon, or travelling, or what type of work I should even be planning on – all of that is influenced. Additionally, I’m always afraid of spiders, which unfortunately is one of the things that hasn’t changed with COVID.

What is the happiest you’ve ever been?

There has been a lot of really wonderful times, but I think the one that stands out to me is when I did an internship in Greece a few years ago. It was the first time that I wasn’t stressfully applying for jobs in my field and didn’t have to worry about planning my semesters for school or anything. I met so many great people there who I’m still friends with, and every weekend was a different adventure – we were always touring around the island, going out dancing, eating great food. So it was just so fun, and busy, and constantly changing, and I just felt so relaxed and like I had found a place I really belonged to.

What inspires you?

Trying to make the world a better place. You can do things that make the world a better place by just being kind and respectful, but then long term I’m hoping to do work for an influential conservation or refugee organization and more grand scale things that honestly may or may not happen. I just aspire to make sure that everyone and everything has as good of a life as possible, which may seem like a grand utopian thought, but I like to think that’s very possible. And it’s trying to think of those ways that lives can be made better that gives me most of my inspiration.
What makes you laugh the most?

Things that don’t seem funny at the time but then you reflect and find the humor in it. I was very much raised that even in a bad situation there is always something happy going on. And that has definitely lead to a lot of awkward situations because you’re not always laughing at the most ideal moments, but there’s always some sort of humor, whether it’s irony, or something is so typical of a person, or something happened that is just so unlikely. And that’s definitely humor that you can find frequently in just basic day-to-day life, so it’s nice to put a happy spin on things even if they aren’t obviously happy.

What is your favorite thing you can see out of your window?

Out of my kitchen window, I have a pretty good view of the sunrises. One of my favorite things about living in Calgary is the beautiful cloud formations we can have and the prairie sunrises and sunsets, so if I’m watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, or making breakfast, or anything, it just starts the day off on such a good note and makes me feel so happy and so at peace, and I just love it so much.

What three things do you think of the most each day?

Definitely my dog, Tally. I got her coincidentally a week before COVID started to affect day-to-day life and she’s really great for when I’m stuck at home for long hours. She definitely brightens up my day a lot.

I also think about food a lot each day - I am a food fanatic. There are so many great places in Calgary and especially since I drive around a lot for my job if I have some extra time I’ll be doing quick research to figure out if there’s a coffee shop, bakery, or place to grab some takeout nearby that I should be hitting up.

And more recently I’m trying to remind myself to calm down during the day. I can be a really anxious person so I’m trying to be more mindful of that and I’ll remind myself to take a moment and breathe. Especially right now it’s very easy to get stressed and so that’s more of conscious thought I’m trying to integrate into my day.

Is your glass half full or half empty?

Neither and both – it just is what it is on the day and the mood. On average it would probably be a half full glass, but we all have those days where you get really down, and nothing seems to be going well. But on average it tends to be half full because there’s a lot of things to be happy about, and if I’m able to I’ll focus on that side of things, which can just be harder to do some days than other – but that’s life!

Say howdy to some of the faces making a difference in our community, HeartBeats is now #HowdYYC! Downtown looks a little different than we are used to, and while a few doors are temporarily closed, the spirit of western hospitality shines through. 

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AlvΓ©ole | The Urban Beekeeping Company

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