Reflections

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It’s the last day of October, and as we shift into another month, as our bees cluster up to keep warm, as we hunker down into office work and planning for 2018, we have this reflection from one of our summer interns, Thea Sturdy. Thea was a support to the Hastings Urban Farm and Bee Space in the first part of her internship, and then moved into full on beekeeping support in our country and city yards in the later months of her time with us, as part of the Queen Rearing team. Thank you Thea for all of your work and support, and for this piece reflecting on the impact for you and for our community.

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Hello everyone, let me introduce myself. My name is Thea and I’m a UBC agroecology student. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Hives for Humanity through an internship over the last 6 months, and now that I’ve completed the internship and had a chance to reflect on the time I spent working as part of the H4H team, I would like to share my experience.

I can say with confidence that I had a very positive internship experience. I always felt welcomed, engaged, interested, useful, valued, and challenged, whether it be at Beespace, on the Hastings urban farm, or in the apiary. I’m grateful that Sarah, Julia, and Cassie gave me the opportunity and encouraged me to take on a learning and leadership role at H4H rather than be the type of intern who buys coffee and runs errands.

In addition to communication, technical, and organization skills, my beekeeping skills have come a very long way since January. I am a new and mainly self-taught beekeeper, only having 2 seasons under my belt. By spending over 100 hours in the field inspecting colonies alongside the best mentors, Julia and Phil, I am now able to spot queens easily, detect signs of disease, quickly survey a hive’s food stores, identify problems in the colony, graft larva, and overall am a much more competent and confident beekeeper. Using the skills I have learned throughout the year, I was able to build my own personal apiary from 7 colonies that overwintered into a successful and thriving 21 colonies. I now also have the confidence to take risks in my apiary; I will be experimenting with overwintering my very first nucleus colonies and raising my own queens next season.

This internship has made me realize that the keystone to becoming successful in whichever path you choose to follow is to have the confidence that you can do it. Above all, my time at H4H has fostered self-confidence in me in a way that I have never before experienced. I am excited about my future in the world of beekeeping, because it has ignited a passion in me that I have never before had for anything. Now that I’ve started building the important skills needed to succeed as a beekeeper, I truly believe that I can make a successful business out of it someday.

This experience has also pushed me to reach out to more people in my own neighborhood to create a more tight-knit and inclusive beekeeping community. I recently re-connected with my 3rd grade teacher, who as it turns out, has been a beekeeper herself for 40 years. We have organized a community meeting and potluck to get to know other beekeepers in our own community, and our provincial bee inspector will be attending as well. This is a step that I never would have taken had I not been inspired by the networking and partnership-building that Hives for Humanity encourages.

Above all, I have absolutely no doubt that the confidence that I have gained, whether it be in my leadership skills, technical skills, communication skills, or beekeeping skills, through this internship opportunity will make me much more successful in my future endeavours. I would like to thank Sarah Common, Julia Common, Cassie Plotnikoff, Phil LaFlamme, and all other members of the Hives for Humanity team for making my experience so rewarding and enjoyable.

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