It’s no denying that Detroit is a city on the rise and these Detroiters have found a sweet way to get in on the action.
Detroit Hives is a non-profit organization focused on the conservation of honeybees in the city.
Co-Founders Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey are two of Detroit’s African-American beekeepers. Together, they are taking the city’s vacant lots and turning them into urban bee yards with the hope of teaching not only children, but adults, the importance of bees to the ecosystem.
“Having bees is a great opportunity to increase yield locally and learn how important they are to the environment,” Lindsey said.
Taking courses in April 2017, these business owners learned how to properly care for bees and are now looking to spread knowledge to the urban neighborhoods.
With some help from Detroit Land Bank Authority, the agency responsible for revamping the city’s vacant and abandoned properties, Detroit Hives was able to purchase their first lot on Detroit’s East Side.
To fill their urban bee farms, Detroit Hives purchases bees from other bee farms, (yes, you can purchase bees!). In addition to buying them from other local bee farms, Detroit Hives will also safely capture a swarm of honeybees if they just so happen to see one.
“We will see a cluster of bees, we will rescue them and take them back home,” Lindsey said.
With Detroit being a city of opportunity, the pair set their sights on the city’s vacant lots for a few reasons. One of those reasons being vacant lots may be some of the healthiest land plots for not only bees, but other pollinators such as butterflies and birds.
“Unlike rural farms, vacant lots are untampered with chemicals. Rural farms have to be sprayed with herbicides and pesticides and vacant lots don’t,” Paule explained. “Pollinators are flocking to these vacant lots.”
Detroit Hives also features an additional draw to their urban bee farms. With the use of lavender, the beekeepers are helping to keep both themselves and the bees calm.
As Detroit Hives continues to grow with the city, the founders hope to expand by working with local Detroit schools to provide students with this career alternative that is not very known in the African-American community.
“I would love to work with Cass Tech, Mumford High School or the Jalen Rose Academy to build an observation hive to teach kids about bees,” Paule said.
While Detroit Hives actively looks to engage the community, what happens to all the honey the bees are harvesting now?
“Black Bottom Brewery uses our honey right now to infuse with their beers,” Paule says. The non-profit will also partner with Slows Bar Bq to bring a special sauce to all Michigan store locations.
The ultimate goal is to create a bee sanctuary where beekeepers from all over the city would be able to come and commune, sell products, learn and also buy more bees to populate their farms. They also want to combat the fear the community may have of bees.
“One of the reasons to spread awareness is to help people get over their fear of bees and learn the difference between honeybees and yellow jackets and other sorts,” Lindsey added.
Currently, the non-profit owns one vacant city lot; the equivalent to three bee farms. Detroit Hives looks to purchase more lots, but have limited funding and is looking for the city’s support.
“We are a start-up and self-funded,” Paule said.
Through the slogan “Work Hard and Stay Bumble,” the pair hopes to have a sweet impact on Detroit. If you’d like to donate, please visit the website.