Honeybees don’t hibernate in the winter. They cluster together, raising their body temperatures to 93 degrees by flapping their wings, and snack on that sweet stored honey. And they keep on moving.
It may be winter, but we’re not hibernating either. You might even say we’ve been “busy bees.” Save the Bees Indiana is in full-swing, with bee presentations being made in classrooms all over the city, kids are beginning to work on their bee art for the April exhibit, and we’ve been chatting with city council members about the issue of pesticides in Indianapolis. And it’s only January!
Bee presentation at Center For Inquiry #2. This classroom is getting an observation beehive inside (the bees will funnel outside through a tube in the window to forage).
We stopped by to chat with Paramount School of Excellence’s Bee Team! Paramount not only has bee hives, they also have chickens, goats, and a cheese-making operation!
Kate held a Beekeeping 101 class this weekend that drew almost 80 people to the Boner Fitness and Learning Center on the near Eastside. Mostly adults, but a few kids came along with their parents. So many potential beeks!
Have you met Brittany? She’s been such a delightful and helpful part of Bee Public’s year. As we move in to an even more education-focused mission and expand our network of beehives, she’ll continue to *bee* there. Want to participate in Bee Public’s 2016 Apprenticeship Program? Email us.
Apprentice Brittany with a “foundation-less” frame of bees
3. Geeking out with fellow beekeepers in Chicago and Portland
One of the coolest things about the internet is being able to connect with fellow beekeepers near and far. Kate made a visit to Chicago and Portland this year, meeting up with Bike-a-Bee’s Jana Kinsman and Bee Local’s Damian Magista. It just so happens they’re some of the coolest beeps you’ll ever meet.
Kate inspecting a rooftop hive in Portland, OR
4. Catching a swarm along the Cultural Trail
Your calls, tweets, and emails made it happen. Just before one of the busiest weekends of the summer, we captured a swarm of bees along the Cultural Trail and re-homed them to a nearby urban farm.
5. We won a Sustain Indy Grant!
Jim Poyser and Kate Franzman
Our good friend Jim Poyser of Earth Charter Indiana teamed up with Bee Public to land this $10,000 grant from Indy’s Office of Sustainability for our new program, Save the Bees Indiana. With the money, we’ll be traveling to schools all over Indiana to talk about bees, getting kids, parents, and teachers to take action to decrease or eliminate the use of bee-killing pesticides, to take civic action, and we are integrating art by having each student create a bee sculpture from recycled materials, which we will exhibit on Earth Day 2016 at the ArtsGarden.
6. We’ll be placing bee hives in schools next year
Part of the Save the Bees project also includes placing beehives or pollinator habitats at area schools. Bee Public’s mission has continued to evolve over the years, focusing more and more on education, particularly youth education. We are pleased and excited to place beehives at (at least) six schools next year.
Sky Farm bee hive at Eskenazi Health
In 2015, Bee Public gave more than 35 talks, classes, and field trips (with around 2,000 participants total) about bees. Not to mention all the folks we reach online through social media. Thanks to your donations and support, Bee Public will continue to spread the word about why bees are so important to us and what we can do to help them out. In the next few months, we’ll be visiting more classrooms to talk about bees and hope to continue educational programming with organizations including the Patachou Foundation, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum and more.
I was recently interviewed by Joe Dudeck about my segue from the ad world to the ag world and beyond. You can read the whole thing here.
Joe: So then tell me about your segue into farming.
Kate: I applied for an apprenticeship with Growing Places Indy, who does an apprenticeship program every summer, and I felt, “What a great way to transition into something.” Because of Bee Public, I was already starting to create these relationships with urban farmers. We have, within the city, four or five different farms, and I wanted to put beehives on their farms. I didn’t have a yard or a balcony, and it made sense to me to put a beehive where your food is so they can help pollinate it. The connection’s clear.
Joe: Did the farmers get the connection?
Kate: Some did. A lot of farmers are way too busy to even think about that. Planting flowers is an easy way to attract pollinators that are already in the area. So that was how I approached it. “Let me manage the bees. It’s free for you. I really believe in providing this service for free to you. I don’t want to charge you to put a beehive here.”
And that was the first time I realized I’m a terrible business person.
Joe: Yeah, how do you make money off this?
Kate: There are other beekeepers, obviously, who make their living off of selling honey. I got into it and was like, “I don’t want to charge people to set up the beehive. I don’t want to harvest and sell honey. How am I going to maintain this project?” I had all kinds of people telling me, “You’re a dummy. You need to harvest and sell honey. How else are you going to maintain what you’re doing?” I just kept thinking, “No. It doesn’t feel right to me.”
Bees make honey for themselves. Not everybody knows that fact…that bees eat honey. They actually work themselves to death to make this honey for their hive, which is a super organism. Eighty-thousand bees in a hive are working to make honey to get through a winter that none of them have ever experienced because they live about 30 to 40 days. How would they know what’s coming? But they know.
And once you’re in it, it’s hard to be like, “Okay, now I’m going to really mess up your world here and take out some honey.” It just never felt right to me, so I made a decision not to do it.
Joe: And do you feel good about that decision?
Kate: I feel really good about it. I get asked once a week, “Where can I get your honey?” It’s a great conversation starter to just talk about the bigger issues: why bees are in trouble, why I decided not to harvest their honey, and what other things they provide to us. I tell people all the time, “I didn’t get into beekeeping because I love honey. I’m indifferent toward honey. I got into it because I love vegetables and fruits and all these other great things that bees provide to us.
So the way that I’ve been sustaining Bee Public is through grants, donations, and sponsorships and just trying to come up with creative ways. I approach it more like a nonprofit versus a product that I’m making a profit off of.
Actually, the product is me. I get paid to do speaking engagements. I’ve made some strategic partnerships with organizations like the IMA, the Patachou Foundation, and Public Greens. Martha Hoover has been very supportive of what I’m doing. She has bees at home, and I’ve got a beehive across from Public Greens at that farm site. I give talks there a lot. I’ve also done some things with the Children’s Museum.
Joe: And how would you say business is going?
Kate: I’m at this point now where I’m like, “Oh, shit. I have a thing here that I have to grow now and pay attention to.” I’m at that moment where I have to really make some big decisions. It’s becoming a business—or possibly a nonprofit in the future—and I have no idea what I’m doing. None. I’m trying to find mentors and people who can help me navigate that because I’m not business minded necessarily.
The little ones at Village Montessori already knew so much about bees, how cool is that! And we had so much fun “pollinating” each other with glitter. 🐝✨ #beepublic #savethebeesIN (at Village Montessori School)
Call for Student Artwork: SAVE THE BEES Exhibition in the Indianapolis Artsgarden Contact: Jim Poyser: email@example.com
Arts Council of Indianapolis, Bee Public and Earth Charter Indiana will raise awareness of the plight of Honey Bees in a month-long exhibition in the Artsgarden in April of 2016. Much like the Monarch Butterfly exhibition in 2015, the artwork collected from Indiana students will be displayed in the Artsgarden in downtown Indianapolis during the month of April. This project is in part thanks to a SustainIndy Community Grant Program.
Who: 4th and 5th Grade students in Indiana (class projects or individuals) What: 3-D Honey Bees made from recycled, reused or repurposed materials When: Respond to Jim Poyser by December 1 for exhibition in April 2016 Where: Indianapolis Artsgarden (intersection of Washington and Illinois)
One in every three bites of food we eat is made possible by pollinators such as Honey Bees. An estimated $15 billion worth of crops is pollinated by Honey Bees, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables in the United States. Honey Bee populations continue to decline due to Colony Collapse Disorder, diseases, parasites, poor nutrition, and pesticide exposure.
The work should be created using primarily reused or recycled materials and should be in a 3-dimensional form able to be hung from above or attached to glass walls. (See images attached/below of successful Monarch Butterfly installations) Interested class groups or individuals should research what materials are not being recycled or reused at their school and at home to discover the best materials with which to create their sculptures.
This exhibition, featuring hundreds of hand-crafted Honey Bees swarming about the Artsgarden, will not only highlight the threat to bees and other vital pollinators but also offer a solution to their demise: planting flowers, and placing hives. More action steps may be found at www.beepublic.com
Student artists must be in 4th or 5th grade, living in Indiana
The majority of the materials used to make the sculptures must be recycled or reused/reclaimed. Each piece should include a small loop or some form of hanging mechanism.
All sculptures due in the Artsgarden no later than April 1 – no foolin’!
There are no size requirements, but bees should be no greater than 4”x4”x4”. Limit weight of piece to 5 lbs. Any larger and/or heavier pieces will need prior approval.
If interested in submitting artwork, please e-mail Jim by December 1 at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then be on the list to receive updates with greater detail regarding delivery of art, special events, educational materials for students, etc.
When people hear I’m a beekeeper, they often ask about the honey. As Bee Public evolved over the past three years, so did my thoughts on honey production. I finally got around to posting an offical statemtent on beepublic.com. Basically, I didn’t get in to beekeeping because I love honey. I got into it because I love vegetables.
“One in every three bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators. Because of this, we do not harvest honey from our hives. This decision was made after much thought about the plight of honeybees and all the factors that contribute to their decline, including a shrinking food supply. Contrary to popular belief, bees don’t make honey just for us, they make it, store it, and eat it themselves.
That is why at Bee Public, we have decided to support our bees’ health by letting them keep the honey they work so hard to make. They need all the energy they can get to help us pollinate our fruits and veggies.
Increasing awareness about why bees are important, why they’re in trouble, and what we can do to help is most important to our mission and we can find other ways of keeping this project sustainable beyond honey production.
We do support beekeepers who practice sustainable, bee-focused honey production the same way we support sustainable farming.”
It’s crunch time! We often think about honeybees in the springtime when the flowers start to bloom but fall is a crucial time for our pollinators as they hustle to get enough honey stores for the winter months. #bees #beepublic #savethebees @publicgreens (at Public Greens: Urban Kitchen with a Mission)
Congrats to @dataplancowboy and @generalpubliccollective who created our incredible #beepublic t-shirt design. #Repost @dataplancowboy
Pumped to be featured as @indystar Fall Arts Guide’s 7 emerging artists to watch this fall @generalpubliccollective #family #tribe #fsdc