Arts·Big Things

Falher, Alberta: come for the giant honeybee, stay for the 30,000 little ones… on our host's face!

Big Things Small Town’s Tamarra Canu goes to this northern Alberta town to investigate its huge bee sculpture and ends up with a bee beard.

Big Things Small Town’s Tamarra Canu goes to investigate the bee sculpture and ends up with a bee beard

If there's one thing Albertans do even better than huge trucks and grain elevators, it's making massive monuments for little places. Follow Tamarra Canu on her summer Albertan road trip as she travels her province to find out what these big things meant to the small towns that call them home.

In this episode, Tamarra heads to the town of Falher in northern Alberta. Known for it's agricultural community, Falher — this year celebrating its 100th anniversary — can go under the radar for what it's truly famous for: honey production. At one time, the tiny town produced 10% of all of Canada's honey, so naturally it makes sense that their massive object is the "World's Largest Honeybee".

This episode of Big Things Small Towns visits Falher Alberta, a tiny town that at one time produced 10% of all of Canada's honey. 5:37

Big Things Small Towns visits during the town's annual honeyfest, and in addition to the seeing the giant bee, checks out hives at a local famous apiary. Tamarra also walks into a cage of 30,000 bees to participate in their annual "bee beard" tradition — something locals don't dare try. Blue skies, wheat fields and honeybees: that's the buzz in Falher.

Big Things Small Town's host Tamarra Canu looking very pleased to be participating in the town's annual "bee beard" tradition.

Built: 1990
Height: 6m
Length: 7m​​​​​​
Diameter: 2m
Material: wire mesh
Artist: Richard Ethier
*not a wasp

Falher, Alberta's giant bee under construction.

About Big Things Small Towns

At one time, the largest things spreading across the Canadian prairies were grain elevators and Ukrainian church domes, but in the 1990s, citizens of small towns began building their own roadside giants. Some relevant to the times, some questionably random and some still popping up today.

On Big Things Small Towns we visit six of Alberta's most legendary locations:

  • Drumheller! The "World's Largest Dinosaur" takes you back to prehistoric times. Plus, you can see how it and many other dinos are made.
  • Falher! You'll celebrate the "World's Largest Bee" in more ways than one (including witnessing Tamarra facing one of her biggest fears by participating in their annual bee beard spectacle).
  • Vegreville! You'll find out why the "World's Largest Pysanka" (or painted egg) is truly unique from creation to design.
  • Glendon! Tamarra's headed to take a bite out of its world-famous perogy and discover how the monument may have saved the town itself.
  • Donalda! The "World's Largest Oil Lamp" has been lighting the way for tourists to discover the beauty within the walls of the town.
  • Medicine Hat! This town celebrates Indigenous art and identity with the spectacular Saamis Tepee that celebrates culture, history and the legacy of the Calgary Olympics.

You get to see these objects and the diverse Alberta landscape through the lens of spectacular drone visuals while you learn about Alberta's rich history and, more importantly, start planning your own road trip. Check back for more Big Things Small Towns over the next few weeks.

Special thanks to The Kubasonics for their song Giants of the Prairies. Graphics and poster designed by Chris Brodt.

About the Author

Tamarra Canu is a freelance filmmaker, recently a grant recipient to produce her film The Act of Being Normal. She was Additional Camera and Production Assistant for Vital Bonds on CBC's The Nature of Things and Production Coordinator for CBC's Equus- Story of the Horse. She began her career at CBC News Edmonton as Associate Producer and is proud to be able to keep telling stories for the CBC.

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