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Organization Spotlight: Hives for Humanity

Happy woman holding a hive frame with honey bees

Hives for Humanity is changing lives in the Downtown Eastside and throughout the Vancouver metro area. It’s building connections between people and nature. A unique charity native to Vancouver, Hives for Humanity engages bees and people by creating positive, enlivened, supportive networks around bee hives and community gardens.

At DP World Canada, we want to acknowledge the work of Hives for Humanity, an organization that is dedicated to raising environmental awareness and building inclusive communities through apiculture.

A unique Vancouver beginning

There is really no charity quite like Hives for Humanity. It was born right here in Vancouver, and it has thrived here—like the bee hives its nurtures—for the past seven years.

It started in 2012, when a single hive of honeybees was introduced to the Hastings Folk Garden in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. With the aid of volunteers, the bees adapted quickly to that location and started making honey from the variety of blooms in the garden. The community surrounding the garden became increasingly invested in the life and work of the hive. Soon there were requests for other apiaries in other neighbourhoods.

Today there are more than a dozen apiaries throughout Vancouver supported by Hives for Humanity. These beekeeping cultures foster a natural connectivity between people and the environment. Even better, this non-profit is getting people to participate in local sustainable economies and supporting at-risk populations of people and pollinators in and around Vancouver.

What Hives for Humanity does for Vancouver

At its core, these feats are accomplished through beekeeping and some creative programmes. For instance, Hives for Humanity maintains a Mentorship Beekeeping Programme that provides apiculture training to traditionally marginalized, hard-to-reach and at-risk individuals. Hives for Humanity provides the training and supervision, with the objective of not only tending the bees but also building employability skills and fostering self-worth.

Hives for Humanity also partners with other Vancouver charities and non-profit organizations. It hosts various public workshops throughout the year, addressing areas as diverse as beekeeping and honey extraction to gardening and wax crafts.

Connecting through the culture of the hive

According to Sarah Common, Hives for Humanity co-founder and CEO, “Beekeeping, and the culture that surrounds the hive, have an incredibly therapeutic capacity.”

Working in an apiary requires a high level of attention, which can be meditative for some people. What’s more, the activity of a hive generates a vibration that humans find soothing and attractive. That is what makes these apiaries such vibrant parts of the Budzery and the Marguerite Ford Apartments, the Sorella House for Women, the Sole Food Orchard and the Cathedral Square Park, as well as other communities throughout the Vancouver area.

“The culture of the hive that surrounds the bees creates hope and connection,” Sarah added. “Our organization celebrates that hope, and connects each of us, involved in our own way, to nature, to the community and to ourselves.”

Hives for Humanity is about celebrating the bees and sharing access to the gardens, education, skill-building and the experience of the hive with the community. Hives for Humanity’s volunteer model is matches volunteers’ skill sets to activities, while making sure to give those who face barriers such as poverty, addiction and mental illness an opportunity to get involved. An often-overlooked fact about volunteerism is that it’s typically more accessible to people of privilege.

How to make a connection with Hives for Humanity

In addition to visiting one of its current apiary locations throughout Vancouver, there are a number of ways for individuals and organizations to support the work of Hives for Humanity and share the benefits of the hive:

  • Donation
  • Volunteer
  • Apiculture products
  • Workshops
  • Agency partnerships
  • Corporate sponsorship of a hive

Contacting Hives for Humanity

If your organization is looking to take the next step in a locally based corporate responsibility programme, Hives for Humanity is looking to work with you to bring therapeutic hives to more Vancouver communities.

To learn how your organization can help Hives for Humanity, visit their website for information about their products, services and donation or partnership opportunities. And buzz on over to their Facebook page, Instagram page and Twitter profile.