A Learning Curve on the Awesomeness of Bees from the Heros at Hives for Humanity

The Curve is dedicated to exploring and feeling out the corners of complex, multi-dimensional, often hierarchical and always completely random subjects. The aim is to inform readers – in progressive, graduating fashion – on everything from gin and poems to cheeseburgers and trees.

Just in time for spring, we asked Sarah and Julia Common and Cassie Plotnikoff – the three women that run Hives for Humanity – to combine their knowledge and create a Curve on everything bee-related. What they came up with is a graduated scale for the senses, including ethical candy and feeling the bee-vibrations…

BEGINNER | Planting, Protecting, Eating

Photo by Hives for Humanity

“To support the bees, the best thing we can do is to plant flowers that feed them, and protect areas of undisturbed habitat to shelter them. There are opportunities in our city to do this in all kinds of creative ways, working with nooks and crannies as available, in your backyard, balcony, or community garden. There are about 450 species of indigenous wild bees in BC alone, in addition to the honeybees, which are non-indigenous. These wild bees are largely solitary, and the impacts of habitat loss and heavy pesticide and fungicide use that are causing severe repercussions for honeybees, are even more severe and lethal for these wild species. You can support the health and diversity of all bee species by picking up pollinator friendly seeds at our DTES Seed Library at the Carnegie Centre VPL, or from your local garden shop. And if you don’t have a garden or a window ledge of your own then add the seeds to an empty urban lot or a roundabout garden! AND you can support honeybee health by purchasing honey from beekeepers who you know, who can tell you how they keep their bees, how they manage for health, and which gardens and fields their honey comes from. We recommend: head down to East Van Roasters to enjoy a honey caramel chocolate, purchase some local honey, and read up on your bee friendly plants in time for spring – our website has a list of helpful resources to get your garden buzzing!”

INTERMEDIATE | Feel the Buzz

Photo by Megan McLellan

“If you know a bit about bees (six legs, four wings, two antennae, hairy bodies, straw-like tongues, pollen collectors) and you want to get your hands sticky/feel the buzz, then come join us in our experiential workshops. Hold a vibrating frame of bees in your hands and you’ll feel your connection to the land, to community, and to yourself. Bees are about more than honey, they are a rich experience of learning, caring, fostering and growing in community. We host free workshops over the spring and summer season, and you can get connected through our website to find a date that works for you, or ask about our custom team building workshops and experiences.”

ADVANCED | Thoughtful Beekeeping

Photo by Derek Fu

“Beekeeping is complex. It requires year-round dedication to supporting the balance and health of the colony, a living, breathing, intricate body composed of thousands (up to 60,000 in peak summer) of individual bees. Taking on responsibility for a hive of your own should be thought out with care, and engaged through community, for best results – healthy, calm, strong colonies. Take a course, join a beekeeping club, and find mentors to support you. Read continually. Be(e) a life-long learner! Honey bees are a managed species, especially in the city they need consistent care and careful observation; a hive left alone in the city, especially in our damp and cold Vancouver climate, is likely to develop disease, which can impact other colonies, and have a detrimental effect on overall health of the species. A hive cared for can thrive, providing a rich learning experience, a point of gathering and calm in your space, a source of incredible and delicious medicine and food.”

EXTRA CREDIT | Become a Bee Ambassador

Photo by Hives for Humanity

“We are more than beekeepers, and bees are more than honey. Bees are complex and diverse, and beekeeping can be an opportunity for community engagement. Bees can enrich lives, and in fact they can save lives, by offering connection, meaning, hope and purpose. If you are concerned for honey bees, the work is to expand that concern to the rich diversity of wild bees, and from there to the rich diversity of other beings, including our water, our trees, and the most vulnerable members of our communities living in isolation. Bees, the gardens that surround them, and the community they build, can be vectors for change! Do you have a community that wants to learn more? A community that wants to make positive social and environmental impact? Become an ambassador for people and pollinators – ask us about our honey tasting kits and how you can support our work and community. We are stronger together!”

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