Winter Update! Honey, Bees, Bee Space and Grants

It’s been a busy while for the team, with honey extraction, winterizing our colonies, finishing up our Bee Space and applying for next year’s funding. Here are some updates and images from these busy times, thanks as always for your interest and support, helping us to foster connected community through the bees!

Honey Extraction was a blast, as always! We do all of our Therapeutic Program honey extractions alongside the communities we keep the bees with. Residents of each building get a bottle each for hosting the bees, and the societies we partner with share the rest to spread the word about the program. Then we bring the team out to our partners at the Honey Bee Centre and work hard uncapping and spinning the neighbourhood honey in their Honey House. We got it all done and are really happy with the volume and the flavours! The next step is bottling, and then sharing our small batch extracted, neighbourhood profiled, super delicious, hyper local, 2016 urban honey catalogue with our retailers, restaurants and honey lovers like you!

Winterizing the Colonies has been a process of gauging the strength of each colony, feeding sugar syrup with organic herbal medications to boost colony health, and next we will be placing our “pillows” on top of the hives to wick away moisture through our wet Vancouver winter.

Bee Space has its VCH Food Permit, its CoV Occupancy Permit and its CoV Business Liscence!  Next steps for us are to organize an opening party and invite everyone over for tea and honey! Look for that invite from our newsletter and on our social media, we’ll put it here too.

Grant Writing is always a mix of success and failure, as we work to advocate for our programs and build relationships with funders. It can sometimes feel like we are writing in a vacuum, as proposals and reports go in but aren’t always shared. So every year we like to share some excerpts here. This year we’d like to share an excerpt from each of the three applications we have put forward to three of the funders we are most excited about working with: 1) Vancouver Foundation, 2) The City of Vancouver, and 3) Vancity Credit Union.

1) Vancouver Foundation Greenest City Application for 2017: in progress

Their Question: What are your anticipated outcomes for the project (short, medium and long term)?

Our Answer:
– Increase staff team to offer support to Therapeutic Programming: from 1 to 2 people at 2hrs/wk (per location)
– Increase staff team to offer added support from Chief Beekeeper: from .5 to 2hrs/wk (per location)
– Create products that share the story of joy and accomplishment in the DTES, and that create revenue to support the programming.
– Connect people and organizations, across institutional barriers, or socio-economic divides, through workshops, events, celebrations and beekeeping.

– Increase participation in Therapeutic Programming by offering regularity of schedule: from 1-3 participants to 5-10 participants, over 3yrs.
– Increase locations offering Therapeutic Programming from 12 – 20, over 3yrs.
– Build Community Beekeeper Team from 11 core members to 20, over 3yrs.
– Offer volunteer and training programs and workshops that teach and empower citizens.

Long Term:
– Build lasting connections within and between communities that: change narratives about who the “other” is; build supportive and inclusive networks; celebrate diversity; foster connected community.
– Increase health in the DTES by developing self-worth and community pride.
– Increase health in the DTES by connecting residents to the therapeutic benefits of the hive and gardens, which include the products of the hive as well as the process of keeping the bees.
– Empower citizens to take action that increases social health in their communities, increases their own health.
– Develops resources and assets in community, through bees and gardens.
– Offer training, skills sharing, and work opportunities.
– Create pathways that elevate participants, through opportunities that exist in the beekeeping industry and through skills learned and stability fostered through the experience of work and training.
– Ground our work in social enterprise that leverages our network, and that takes advantage of the current opportunities for growth in the beekeeping sector.

2) City of Vancouver Community Economic Development, DTES Capital Grant: approved second portion of funding to finish #BuildBeeSpace

Their Question: Part i) Describe your organization’s objectives.
Part ii) How will your proposed project better enable you to meet these objectives?

Our Answer:
Part i) By creating flexible, welcoming and inclusive opportunities, year round, we aim to:
1) Increase self-worth and community pride in the individuals and communities we work alongside;
2) Develop capacity for work/employment through green skills training, accountability and communication, and job creation;
3) Enhance community, connecting individuals to supportive networks and offering opportunities for engagement in meaningful work/programming;
4) Diversify and increase availability of appropriate habitat and forage for native pollinators through planting of pollinator friendly and native species of plants;
5) Improve understanding of pollination’s role in our food system, of pollinator friendly practices, and of the rich diversity of bees in our province and city;
6) Produce of sustainable local goods and participate in our local economy.

Part ii) To operate at our space there are necessary improvements that remain, after our intial CoV CED gran.This funding would make those upgrades possible, they are otherwise beyond our reach. This would in turn allow us to realise the potential of our space as a community hub for our society, that creates a year round spectrum of opportunity for connection, training, and production of local goods.

While the gardens and the bees are seasonal, the community that we serve doesn’t take a break, and we have found that relationships fall through the gaps over the winter, when there is not a place for our community to gather. Through this project we will extend our ability to graduate our participants through opportunities, from low through to medium and higher barrier opportunities, and then connect them out into our network of beekeepers and gardeners, equipped with skills and understanding, and a much important sense of self worth that allows people to break free from the cycyles of abuse, poverty, trauma and addiction that are so difficult to escape without support.

3) Vancity Credit Union: EnviroFund Food – declined (we will work on our application and be re-applying in the next cycle)

Their Question: List the specific local concerns that your project is addressing, and tell us why it is important to address these concerns.

Our Answer: This project addresses local concerns of isolation, dislocation and poverty, as they intersect with other socio-economic factors where we, culturally, face great disparity amongst our members.

1) Isolation: Members of our communities are isolated, disconnected from networks of support for a diversity of reasons, navigating trials and traumas alone. These members are often seeking connection, but face barriers to finding it. This project seeks to create bridges within and between communities, to connect people to nature, to community, and to themselves, through the therapeutic, educational, and inspirational opportunities that the culture of the hive can provide.

2) Dislocation: Members of our communities have been dislocated from land, family, community, tradition, support and even self, through legacies of colonialism, trauma, grief, misunderstanding and loss. Meaningful work, which offers skills building, knowledge sharing, and supportive community, is a powerful re-connector, which can help individuals to relocate themselves and rebuild their resources.

3) Poverty: Members of our communities, who face barriers to stability, often have to face poverty as well. We create inclusive, supportive, and non-judgmental spaces, that offer training, volunteer and work opportunities, that teach transferable skills, build self-worth, and empower participants to take action.

It is important to address these concerns if we are to move forward in health and diversity, both socially, environmentally and economically, as a society.

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