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  • Guest Blog: Intern Sam

    Guest Blog from our Carleton University Social Work Field Placement student Sam Davidson: Sam came and joined the H4H team in May and is with us until the end of July, she has been helping out at Bee Space, the Hastings Urban Farm and Folk Garden, in our Therapeutic Apiary and Mentorship programming, our Neighbourhood Honey Program, our workshops, events and with all kinds of things in between.

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    Hello! You may or may not have seen me buzzing around the garden and/or bee space over the last month so please allow me to introduce myself properly. My name is Sam Davidson and I am here at Hives for Humanity doing a field placement as part of my fourth year curriculum in the Bachelor of Social Work program at Carleton University in Ottawa Ontario. How and why the heck did I come all this way to do a social work placement? My background is in food security and working with people experiencing poverty in rural settings. My passion is connecting with marginalized folk in nature and cultivating meaningful social relationships while building feelings of self-worth, belonging and community. I am also a beekeeper.

    A few years back a dear friend of mine introduced me to Hives for Humanity and I began my one sided long distance love affair with this amazing organization. I went from following them on social media to exploring  ways to incorporate what they are doing into my school projects and that is how I made my first real connection with Sarah, emailing questions. Fast forward a year later and I was bringing a jar of honey to my neighbour as thanks for a past favour when she introduced me to her dear friend who was visiting her, a fellow beekeeper. Phil, who is rearing queens (among other things) for Hives for Humanity, introduced himself and told me that although he used to live out my way he was now working for an organization in Vancouver. ‘It wouldn’t happen to be Hives for Humanity?’ I asked. Indeed it was. That night I dared to dream that I could come to H4H for my field placement and the wheels were in motion. I emailed Phil who put me back in touch with Sarah and the process began.

    So here I am for the next three months, soaking up the good work being done at Hives for Humanity. I have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome I have received from everyone and I have already learned so much about beekeeping, gardening and the community of the downtown east side. I hope to take all that I learn back with me to Ontario both to include this meaningful work in my future practice as a social worker and to share with others how feelings of community, hope and joy can be cultivated in unlikely places with nature, gardening and bees, connecting us both to ourselves and to each other.

  • Sweet Deal

    Our friend and mentor, author of Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, and Professor at SFU Centre for Dialogue, Mark Winston, was commissioned by Vancity Credit Union to write a research paper on the honey bee industry in BC.

    The report was released at the end of July and it shows that BC is bucking the trends that we so often hear in the media, of globally declining bee health and populations. The report contains good news for bees in our province, and highlights the opportunities for us to support bees, both wild and managed, by focusing on growing and diversifying our local beekeeping resources, strengthening our economy and our ecosystem as we go.

    We had the opportunity to write a set of guest blogs with Vancity for their Good Money Blog: one on Saving the Bees, another on Urban Beekeping, and you can read Mark’s report here. (The first page has a really great list of highlights, the guts of the information, and then you can read on for more detail and even a little bit of a story about us on page 4!)

  • Citizen Scientist Pollinator Count at Hastings Folk Garden

    Many thanks to Environmental Youth Alliance and the citizen scientist team for visiting the Hastings Folk Garden to conduct a pollinator count. A total of 190 pollinators (bees, flies, beetles, moths) were observed by 9 citizen scientists in the 20 minute sampling period at Hasting folk Garden, for an average of 21 pollinators per person.

    > Read the report and see photos here
    > Learn more about Environmental Youth Alliance

  • DTES Respite

    It’s the season to be busy in your green spaces, to dance when it rains and to taste honey warm from the hive! Here are a few pictures from the week in the DTES, working with the wonderful folks of the neighbourhood to make beautiful spaces of respite; to take leadership roles as environmental stewards; to increase connectivity to nature and to community; and to build community pride with dignity and joy.

    Woodward’s Living Wall: a few of the residents of the Woodward’s Community Housing building got together and applied for a small grant to enhance their garden space and this is a shot of Louise, after we completed a living wall together with heather, sage, lavender and thyme for the bees and the people to enjoy!

    Mason Bees in June: mason bee eggs, developing in the safety of the mud walls their mothers made, on beds of nectar and pollen. A part of our Pollinator Corridor Project!

    Milross Gardens: The fresh greens of a community gardener’s veggie box in the foreground, the starts of a living wall to add to the Pollinator Meadow we’ve been working on, in the background.

    Hugh Bird Pollinator Garden: This community garden, cared for by residents of the Hugh Bird, is in full bloom, with colourful pollinator friendlies that we planted last year, and have returned thanks to the care they have been given.

    Hastings Hanging Baskets: The East Hastings hanging baskets, from Carrall to Gore, are replanted every summer by folks from the community, members of the Hastings Folk Garden Society. We have a great time, get a tonne of thanks form the street, along with questions about what we’re planting and why and offers of help. We plant pollinator friendly perennials, and we do it because we love our neighbourhood.

    Elisabeth, the First: Our first hive, Elisabeth, at the Hastings Folk Garden, in the heart of the DTES, a joy. Ian, Jim and I inspected the hive today, tasted honey and pollen warm and fresh from the hive, moving calmly in the midst of chaos.

  • Small Greenest Grants!

    We supported a number of community members in successful applications to the Vancouver Foundation Greenest City Small Grants program this season, and the projects are coming along very nicely. It’s truly incredible what a small grant can do to inspire community. It’s a fantastic program and easy to get involved with, check it out and apply next year for your own community idea!


    Read more

  • Storage Container Saga

    Last week we had a storage container delivered to the Hastings Urban Farm, where we run our open beekeeping workshops on Thursdays at 2pm, sell our honey in season at the farm gate Thursdays 3-6pm, run hive construction workshops, engage with the community, and have been planting a pollinator meadow for the bees and the people to enjoy!

    The container comes from one of our generous supporters, the Bee World Project, who have given us business plan mentorship and consultation that has been of great and lasting value, places in the Beginner Beekeeper course at the Honey Bee Centre in Surrey where we learned a lot about bees from Beekeeper Eric, and fell in love with a trip of goats, and most recently this gem of a storage container!

    It was very exciting to help the flat bed in through our tricky gate, and then watch him unload the container like it was a large feather, with skill and grace, and put it down exactly where i asked for it to be placed. And then to get all of our equipment into one place, and start our hive construction workshops back up immediatley! Yesterday one of our community carpenters said to me ” you know, I could be on the street right now, but I’m here, and I’m doing it for the love of the bees, and to be around people, I like it here, I like this work, thanks for taking me in.”  He was thanking the whole crew, not just me, and his work has been true and valuable and I thanked him right back. The DTES community has incredible depth of spirit, skill, intelligence and  understanding, and we are honoured to be part of it.

    Amazing things are possible with a little help from our friends!

     

  • CBK Update: March 2014

    This week we took off our sweaters, rolled up our sleeves and finally took the plunge in the depths of each of our city hives. We force ourselves to be patient each spring season, and wait until we are warm ourselves, before cracking open our overwintered colonies; not an easy wait when the bees give us so much joy and are such a beautiful meditation. In the meantime we’ve been busy working with folks in the community to build equipment and get our apiaries ready for the spring season.

    Our rewards upon our first inspections: bubbling hives, fresh frames of healthy brood, dancing bees, pollen laden workers, laying queens, new comb already filling with fresh nectar and pollen, and then that incredible aroma of the hive and the honey bee which enters the very soul. We come away with fingers sticky with propolis, an aroma of smoke in our pores, and an inner calm that we have all missed over the winter.


    A healthy hive brings such joy to everyone who witnesses it; equally an unhealthy hive is a sadness to behold: especially when beekeeper error is the cause. In our case we lost 8 out of 75 hives over the winter, all from beekeeper error, risking letting a colony go into winter a little weak.

    We have learned a lot, as ever, with keeping the bees; and, as ever, the lessons are about our selves and our communities as well as about the bees. Beekeeping and all of the complexities of managing a honeybee hive become so simple when you take a step back: stress. Stressed bees are vulnerable to disease. Just like people!

    So we strive to keep our bees calm, healthy, safe and well fed, and to do the same for the community we work with in the DTES. Incredibly, we find that it is the bees that give the people that feeling of well being, of calm and joy. As one of our DTES community beekeepers has said, the bees give you “a reason to lift your head.”

    Dandelion flow is on – so if you are looking for a simple way to support pollinators, leave those dandelions growing and enjoy observing the many visits they’ll get from bees collecting nectar and pollen!