Langara College: Bees Take The Sting Out Of The Downtown Eastside.
Bees take the sting out of the Downtown Eastside.
Langara’s Psychology Department welcomed Sarah Common and Julia Common from Hives for Humanity on campus today to present their ideas around enhancing community through apiculture to Langara psychology students.
The presentation highlighted the concept of therapeutic beekeeping, to help create an oasis of peace and tranquility in the middle of the chaotic downtown eastside.
Starting with some wood, soil, a few seeds, and one box of bees, Sarah and Julia have brought a little bit of nature into the heart of the city. Over the last 2 years, the project has grown from one to 100 hives, spreading out around the city. The first apiaries along the Main and Hastings corridor are developing a culture of inclusivity, opportunity, leadership, and self-worth among those who participate in the care of the gardens and apiaries, those who have suffered from trauma, who are used to living in isolation. These people are welcomed into the apiary, and given a role in the care of the garden or the bees.
“Bees demand a certain respect; you must focus on them. If you lose focus, you can get stung. There is an immediate consequence. Those that choose to engage with the bees learn to be peaceful and relaxed in the apiaries. They want to be part of something meaningful, and have a role in the care of the bees and growing the gardens,” says Sarah. “The warmth and acceptance they receive in the apiary gives them a feeling of self-worth and belonging. Some are empowered to become bee-keepers – they watch over the bees and welcome others who come into the apiary; some make the bee hives, or water the gardens, growing food or flowers for the bees; and some help to harvest the honey. There is a place for everyone in this family; the bees and gardens give every person a change to be their best.”
Proceeds from the sales of honey, royal jelly, bee pollen, and bees wax support the Downtown Eastside program, making this a sustainable effort.
The Social Service Worker Program will include the downtown eastside apiaries as a practicum site opportunity for their students.
Langara College currently has an apiary with three bee hives located in the community garden at the southeast corner of campus by Ontario Street.
Visit the Hives for Humanity website for a list of locations where the Hastings Folk Garden bee products can be purchased.