Honey Bee Research Centre Relocation FAQ

Where is the HRBC currently located?

The HBRC’s main building is an adapted residential-grade home modestly retrofitted to provide apiculture courses, beekeeping courses, administration, storage and other related uses. It is located on Stone Road E. and known as “Townsend House”. Other facilities include a molecular biology laboratory focusing on honey bee genetics and diseases, 13 apiaries for the 300 beehives, an indoor colony overwintering room and the equipment necessary for all aspects of beekeeping and hive product processing.

Fun fact: In 1919, the first Apiculture Building was constructed on campus. It was the first of its kind in North America. This building was demolished to make way for the University Centre in the 1960’s. More on this history of apiculture programs on campus is available here.

What’s wrong with the current facilities?

The current facilities at Townsend House have become increasingly limiting. The structure was built as a residence so it is not well suited for its current use. The list of deficiencies includes: accessibility barriers, lack of sufficient teaching, laboratory and office space, non-compliance with food safety standards, and many ergonomic inefficiencies. The HBRC also hosts numerous groups for courses, tours and other events, and parking and bus turnaround space is inadequate for these activities.

Where will the new HBRC be located?

Updated July 16, 2020: The originally proposed relocation site was adjacent to the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming (GCUOF) on College Avenue East bordered the Arboretum. Due to concerns raised by supporters of the GCUOF and alternate location has been identified and selected. The new HBRC will be located on Stone Road, East of the current HBRC location and west of Victoria Road.

This new proposed location will utilize a former tree nursery that Physical Resources now manages. This location is adjacent to the Arboretum, but not on Arboretum land. Final plans and location is subject to approval by the University of Guelph Board of Governors, as well as municipal and environmental approvals. 

This new site location offers a number of advantages, including re-purposing space that is not currently being used. It also enables new opportunities for collaboration between the HBRC, the Arboretum and Wild Ontario (which is located near by), which will advantage all groups and their users.

Does this mean the GCUOF will be reduced in size?

Updated July 16, 2020: The new HBRC will no longer be located adjacent to the GCUOF and will have no impact on the size or footprint of the farm.

Fun fact: For approximately 50 years, 100 beehives surrounded by a cedar hedge were located where the UC now stands.

Why can’t you build new facilities on the current property?

The current location where Townsend House resides has several limitations. The location is bounded by significant wetland, so expanding is not possible. To build a facility with enough capacity it would be necessary to build more than one story high. This would add the expense of an elevator and could cause accessibility concerns. The location is also not well serviced, as there are no gas or sanitary or storm sewer lines to this part of Stone Road. Connecting to a sanitary and storm main would require large one-time and ongoing expenses.

What steps have you gone through so far in the relocation process?

In the fall of 2016, exploration of options begun around the possibility of rebuilding the HBRC facilities. A steering committee was formed and we’ve completed the initial planning phase of the project including preliminary architectural design and progress in securing funding for the project.

In December 2017, a Co-Design session took place at the Centre as the initial step. Over 25 stakeholders including local beekeepers, beekeeping associations, staff and major gift donors came together to brainstorm a vision for what the new facility could become and to ensure that we build a facility that will match both the current and future requirements of the HBRC. One consistent message prevailed at the co-design meeting: ‘We need to build a facility that is more publicly accessible and create spaces that facilitate public outreach.’

The fundraising for and relocation of the HBRC was approved by the Physical Resources and Property Committee of the Board of Governors on November 29, 2018.

(Updated September 23, 2019) In the spring and summer of 2019, and international design competition was held to select the designers of the new facility.

(Updated July 16, 2020) Planning and design work has continued to move forward and a steering committee has been created with representation from the HBRC, the Arboretum, Physical Resources, and the OAC Dean’s Office. Consultations have taken place with several on-campus groups and early discussions have begun with the City of Guelph on site plan approvals.

Who will be designing the new facilities?

Updated May 9, 2022: In September 2019, Moriyama & Teshima - a team of architects, planners and designers – was selected based on their schematic design proposals. Their design proposal exemplifies sustainability, functionality, aesthetic and location. Discussions on final design and site plan are ongoing.

Who judged the design competition?

Competition entries were assessed by a jury comprised of internal and external stakeholders.

Who is funding this relocation and build?

Fundraising efforts will cover the full cost. Right now, the hope is to raise approximately $10 million.

When will the new facility be open?

Updated May 9, 2022: We hope that the new HBRC will be open in the late summer of 2024.

Who manages the HBRC?

The Honey Bee Research Centre falls under the School of Environmental Sciences, which is part of the Ontario Agricultural College.  Prof. Ernesto Guzman is the director of the centre and Paul Kelly is the research and apiary manager.

Who can I contact for more information on the relocation?

Prof. John Cranfield
OAC Associate Dean – External Relations
519-824-4120, Ext. 53708

Who do I contact for more information on donating to the project?

Shannon Fawns
Development Manager, OAC
519-824-4120, Ext. 53627