Community Beekeeper

"The bees give people a reason to lift their head up"

Hastings Folk Garden Gatekeeper and Beekeeper, a community advocate and leader, Jim has been with H4H since day one.

From welcoming the bees in on their first day, to managing hive inspections, caring for the garden, cleaning hive tools and boxes, extracting and bottling honey, working at events and workshops, and engaging his community in the opportunities that the garden and the bees present, Jim is a part of our team.

Jim was the creative spark behind the DTES Seed Library, hosted alongside the Bee Library at the VPL Carnegie Branch.

Testimonial: "Looking Back on 2015, Pollinators and People"

This has been another great year. I’m still always learning so much – both about bees and their products (ie. wax and honey), and about many people in and out of the community, thanks to the many connections made through our workshops and either working together or meeting people when we go to their site to inspect the hives there.

I also constantly have opportunities to share my knowledge with others. It’s great when someone is just slightly interested in bees or curious about honey or something, and then ten minutes later, realizing I’ve only scratched the surface of how amazing and beneficial bees truly are, they've become fascinated with them.

Our goals and needs are also quite diverse, so there a variety of work to “bee” done: from inspecting hives, to building hive boxes and gardening for pollinators. Attracting many different people to do the work. This has provided many opportunities to both build and strengthen relationships as we work together or trade stories and share our love of bees. It’s great how many pollinator supporters we’ve recruited and the degree to which we’ve informed more people of the plight of the honey bees and the pollinators in general.

I’m frequently amazed by our growth and this was another impressive year both for the growth of our operation and of our reputation/people’s knowledge and awareness of us. This has given us more supporters and greater degrees of various kinds of support from some of our supporters.

Personally, I think one of this year’s greatest accomplishments would have been acquiring the “Bee Space”. Having our own space provides so many opportunities that I can't wait to see it reach it’s potential.

Overall we’ve achieved a lot of things this year and I don't think I’m the only one who’s proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.



Community Beekeeper

"The bees have given me hope where there was none before."

Since receiving an invitation to come be a part of the bee program at Hugh Bird, Ian has taken on more and more responsibility for the bees, providing valuable perspective, energy and skills to our team.

With friends from his building, alongside H4H, and with the support of small grants, Ian has helped turned an old garbage heap on the back patio of his residence, into a vibrant community garden and apiary.

Ian loves the complexity of the bees: "I can spend hours just watching them and just when I think I have them figured out they often throw me a curve ball."

Testimonial: "2015's Impact"

When I think back over this year my mind floods with the many micro events that had occurred. Each of these events shaped the impact 2015 had on my life. Whether the initial event had been pleasant or left a bad taste in my mouth, at the time, they all proved to be a benefit and a lesson for me to learn by!

I have met so many people who have a ton of heart, more motivation, and passion for making the world a beautiful place then most people do. I live in the DTES and to be honest even I prejudged the same people I had just mentioned. Ding moment of realization, "I live in the DTES too", insert perplexing head scratch here!

Boom! 2015 has shaped my life! I started off the year part of the backyard host program. I changed my mind and I decided my happiness and passion was attached to the therapeutic bee keeping in the DTES. I don't know, for me, there something magical about seeing people here in the DTES being engaged in the bee culture! My drug of choice is their looks of wonder, their smiles of joy, and their courage to handle the frames of bees, answering their thousands of questions.

Then by chance, while working at Bee Space, Sarah asked me if I could do the workshop today! BOING! Yet another change of direction. That's cool, no worries whoa wait for it, another realization, "I have the opportunity to teach people skills that can impact their lives", How awesome is that? Everything I am teaching is inexpensive to make but can yield a good profit, even on the small scale; I say
that from my own personal experience selling the same items, with minimal effort, for a good profit.

The best impact 2015 had on me was that I was making a difference, offering people pride and a sense of belonging, and a means by which they could, if they choose to, change their lives. I felt like I mattered. How often can people say that about their jobs? I believe with every fiber of my being in what Hives for Humanity is doing. I really can't wait to see what the future holds. That being said I look forward to the spring of 2016 and all of the micro events to come with a hardy, "Bring it on!



Community Gardener

Michelle came into the Hastings Urban Farm one day, and got her hands into the soil, tending our pollinator meadow.

Since she has been attending our Make Your Own Magic workshops at Bee Space, gaining skills and sharing them with her community.

Testimonial: “Keep the Bees Happy and Save Lives”

Hives for Humanity and Hastings Urban Farm have given me an opportunity to sprout and discover some dormant passions deep within my soul.

Wherever I am with Sarah and her mum, Cassie and Christina, I feel that I belong regardless of my past. We just get doing what needs to be done and live with the seasons.

Sometimes will be at the garden growing pollinators and veggies for the community. Every Monday afternoon it will be at hives for Humanity Bee Space to learn how to make candles, package and label honey. Some students may come to learn how to make paper that has pollinator seeds into it, they learn that after drying it they can put it in the garden and it will grow flowers for the bees. It was so nice to see them excited about the bees life and cycle.’

I had the opportunity to work at the Hives for Humanity booth for the Christmas Fair, it was a blast, we were the most popular selling booth. People want to know about the bees and what the opportunities we have when we volunteer for Hives for Humanity and Hastings Urban Farm.

It has given many of us in the DTES a modest start to change our life and for this I can attest it has saved my sanity and my sobriety.



Assistant Neighbourhood Beekeeper

"We can learn a lot from them [ - the bees]."

Andrew is an insect sculptor and long time resident of East Van, and has enjoyed working with Hives for Humanity for two seasons.

Hive maintenance, assessment and treatment, honey harvest and swarm catching are some of the ways he has enjoyed interacting with bees in the lower mainland. His appreciation of insect behaviour and anatomy lends to his ever increasing enthusiasm for beekeeping.

We met Andrew in one of our backyards, and ever since he has been working alongside us, absorbing all he can about bees and sharing that knowledge with our community.

Strathcona Backyard Bees

Strathcona Backyard Bees

Host Family

We had the pleasure of keeping bees in this backyard in 2014. Alongside the two young girls, two friendly dogs, picnic area, clothes line, bicycle station and general business of the backyard, the bees were happy and healthy.

"It has been beautiful to watch the whole family engage with the hive, dogs, kids and parents included, as well as neighbours over the fences and passing in the alleys!"

Favourite way to enjoy honey: By dipping a finger straight into the honey still warm from the hive!

"We love everything about the bees: the rhythmic hum and musk of the hives, how industrious the bees are, how they seem to know each of our family members, and watching them all fly back home at dusk."



Hastings Urban Farm Lead Peer

“I feel I am the luckiest person in the world.”

I had lived on an organic farm co-op in the valley for ten years until my life blew up and I found myself back downtown for the first time in almost 20 years. The swirling patterns of my fate lead me to this farm at the Rainer Hotel and in has helped me heal and grow in unexpected ways.
Bold, beautiful crops supported our markets and CSA boxes. The veggies were sold, donated, dispersed to one and all and no one went away empty-handed.  Our u-pick raspberries were a real hit and we had plenty to freeze and make jam. Slowly as we learned our place in this sanctuary, we responded, reacted and reached the conclusion that we have some control and everything has a place. Our street sales, which I dearly love, involves me going to different projects such as EVR and Windows, taking orders from friends and delivering orders in my little red wagon.  I feel a pride and can’t keep the smile off my face.  I’m trying to train Chilly, my dog, to pull wagon. My gratitude to PHS is boundless.  I have met so many people, kindred spirits, homies, who, like me are attracted to getting dirty, belly laughing and growing along together with the plants. I am no longer alone, isolated or addicted. I am surrounded by the native culture of honouring our land, hoop dancing, drumming and powwows.  I have also grown ceremonial tobacco and white sage for their use. I feel respected here, my experience as farm worker is valuable and I have been given the environment to pick myself up, dust myself off and look forward to the day. I bow down in gratitude.