Hives for Humanity
MEET THE AMAZING WOMEN THAT WE WORK WITH AND THE WONDERFUL SIDE BUSINESSES AND/OR PASSION PROJECTS THAT FUEL THEM…
THE WOMEN OF HIVES FOR HUMANITY
We are members of Hives for Humanity (H4H), a non-profit partner of East Van Roasters. We supply EVR with unique and local honey, which you might enjoy in delicious smores kits, honey caramels, hot chocolates and more! We are each also members of the H4H Community Engagement Committee, we gather monthly to reflect on the relevance, accessibility and impact of H4H’s programming.
H4H fosters meaningful connection to community, to land and to food, through honey bees and the culture of the hive. We empower self-worth and community pride through skills sharing and experiential learning, working with socially and economically vulnerable populations facing barriers to stability to support their skill and leadership.
Alice K.– but people know her as Ali. Ali has worked at the DTES Women’s Centre and now volunteers with Hives for Humanity in the gardens, as part of her process of learning. She was born in Northern Ontario, and named after the midwife who delivered her. Ali raised her kids here in Vancouver, and is now a grandmother, which is Kokum in her language of Oji-Cree.
Florence Hodgeson – Florence joined the Hives for Humanity team when she visited one of our garden and apiary locations in 2012 and started to give her time and energy to the community space. She was a founding member of our Community Engagement Committee, along with Ali. Flo has expressed the work of our Society as “building together, comb by comb, a healthy hive.” Florence has volunteered and worked at other organisations working towards social justice in the DTES community, including VANDU and PACE, where she has taken leadership roles as a community advocate. Flo was born in Ontario and has been in Vancouver for 35 years. She is Anishnabe-qwe; from Treaty-3.
Sarah Common – Sarah is the Executive Director and one of the co-founders of Hives for Humanity Society. She is passionate about fostering vibrant and healthy community through empowerment and education, and believes in the profound impact of connecting individuals and communities to their land, food and spirit. She is of settler descent, an uninvited guest on these unceded lands, working to be accountable to the land and to create loving and inclusive opportunities for connection.
I worked with my elder to share this story. Honey has a long history, ancient peoples foraging honey long before H4H came into existence, way back when!! I’m always amazed at the young people, especially young Indigenous people, very concerned about what is happening with the bees, from so many different nations, and when I tell them what we do, how we are working together at H4H, and they know, they agree. Even folks from the Yukon I’ve met and shared about our work with H4H. My elder is Greek and Irish, he said to me “honey is like coffee” and I don’t know, but it got me thinking, “who would have ever thought of that?!” Honey is like medicine, the propolis from the hive was offered to me by Sarah’s mum, and I was nervous to accept it but I did, so chewy! I like working alongside Sarah and the different people over the years on the team, we have collectively learned a lot together, I have had the pleasure to meet many people from many nations and hear about what people are doing. Our story is being shared, it’s global, it’s important. When I walk by Tent City to come to our work site and I say hi to people there, I meet people who know about the bees. We grow medicine in our gardens, traditional medicine like tobacco and sage, to gift to our elders and our medicine people at the sweat lodges and other ceremonial spaces.
I am grateful to the community of the DTES where I feel I have been gifted so deeply by the residents and members with understanding of the value of all ways of knowing and being. Folks like Ali and Flo who share a depth of generosity in the time, love, skills and stories they give to our gardens and bees, to their community. I grew up in North Vancouver being taught to “say no to drugs” and to avoid the DTES. Now I know how damaging those lessons are and I am working to encourage others to unlearn them. They teach us to exclude, to devalue, to blame and shame each other. Instead of loving, honouring and supporting each other. In 2007 an interest in food security brought me to the DTES community where I began volunteering at the (formerly “Lifeskills”) Drug Users Resource Centre, and got connected to the Hastings Folk Garden. It was such a strong community there, and despite the centre being closed some years now, the community remains connected. That’s where Hives came from, inspired by that garden, and that community, of such beauty, resilience and love, right in the heart of the DTES – an idea to offer more pathways into the garden, into leadership and stewardship. And now we make honey together, with the bees, the plants, the land, the people. Through the bees we share our story, or as Ali says, our “good medicine.”
I find this is meaningful work, with the bees and in the gardens. Due to my age I’m not good at heavy lifting but I can lift some honey by the case! I sent my sister some gift bags with a jar of honey, a skep shaped candle and a Healing Salve in them and she loved them – to show them what I am doing, they think I am doing nothing out here but I’m not, this a taste of what I’m doing “wow, that’s what she does out there - she’s not behind bars!” I enjoyed the old farm immensely, and I enjoy the folk garden now, it’s fun to get my hands dirty in the soil! My favourite garden of ours is right across from the old sugar factory, at Chartrand Place – we can make tomatoes there, and flowers. Our honey comes from all over, the bees do a lot of travelling, all over our city centre, we captivate them with our pollinator rows in all our gardens, we attract the bees to make honey, from all along Hastings in our garden locales. Our clientele for our honey is numerous, we prepare many orders for honey and that is our mainstay product, but we branch out and are creative with other products like the candles, and lip balm.
Shop online at hives4humanity.square.site a for honey and candles made by our community of people, plants and pollinators! We have added propolis tincture and propolis infused hand salves, to help boost immunity and keep skin from cracking while we all washing our hands more often! You may also purchase bulk honey from us! Stock your pantry with our 6.6lb buckets of local raw honey, available for pick up only - contact firstname.lastname@example.org Your purchases make our programming, our gardens and apiaries, possible, so we may fulfill our mission of inclusion and connection for people, plants and pollinators!
Support honey bees and wild pollinators themselves through planting gardens full of flowers. Follow us on IG @hives4humanity.com to learn more about how to create a vibrant pollinator meadow in your community.