Made in Detroit: Urban Beekeeping

One of the oldest cities in America, Detroit, Michigan began as a trading outpost for Native Americans and the French. By the mid-1800s, it was compared to Paris because of its rich architecture, urban energy and bucolic parks. Detroit is the home of Motown and the Motor City. But Detroit went through a long period of decline and blight. Today, Detroit, is one of the most exciting destinations in the U.S.. It’s booming with murals, markets, greenways, distilleries and a boom in urban agriculture and urban beekeeping.

Through our Sponsor-a-Hive program, we've ve been proud provide honey bees and native bees (along with hives and equipment) to nearly a dozen organizations and schools that are an active part of the sustainable change happening in Detroit, one of America’s most iconic cities.

Bees in D

Downtown Detroit, Michigan and even parts of Canada are buzzing with bees managed by the non-profit, Bees in the D.

Bees in the D is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to create a cooperative effort between residents, schools, organizations, and businesses in the city of Detroit and Southeast Michigan to contribute to both the health of honey bee colonies and the education of their importance to our environment.

Bees in the D has placed and manage over 80 honey bee hives at over 30 locations, across 2 countries, and are building the motor city's Bee Highway.

It’s Director, Brian Peterson-Roest, is a fifth-grade teacher with a passion for bees and Detroit. As Michigan Radio reports.

When Peterson and his now-husband decided to move to Detroit from Lake Orion, he thought his beekeeping days were over. Then, he took a vacation to New York City.

“I was at Battery Park and literally three feet away from me — here are beehives, right in the middle of this public park. And I thought wait for a second, if they can do that, why can't I in Detroit?” Peterson recalled. What he saw was BeeVillage, one of The Honeybee Conservancy’s apiaries housing NYC bees.

From there, Peterson launched his nonprofit and started building hives and educating people about bees.

Belle Isle Nature Center

The team at the Belle Isle Nature Center are champions of bees!

Belle Isle Nature Center’s mission is all about cherishing this beautiful natural space in the heart of downtown and connecting out community with nature. They help their Detroit visitors to explore a close-up view of honey bees at work in our observation bee hive, and have recently installed three hives in our outdoor area for a “beehive classroom” for public engagement.

Belle Isle Nature Center also celebrates our premier pollinators every year on National Honeybee Day with our “Bee Fest” event in which local beekeepers, educators, conservation groups, and visitors from all around the metro Detroit area come to learn about the valuable contributions of bees- and how we can help!

Belle Isle Nature Center was particularly interested in a leafcutter bees or mason bee home, to extend the learning opportunities about the value and significance of pollinators (even without the honey!)

Detroit Hives

Just east of downtown Detroit, abandoned homes make way to empty lots. Well-maintained homes populate a many of the streets and the sky is bright, which feeds the canopy of trees found on each block. Wedged between a home and and empty lot is Detroit Hives. The bright mural welcomes you before you enter an apiary buzzing with activity from half a dozen bee hives, their workers returning home with pollen, nectar, resin and water.

Detroit has plenty of vacant land full of beautiful wild flowers uncontaminated by herbicides pesticides. Detroit Hives repurposes these vacant lots as urban bee farms for the conservation of honey bees. With there being an increase in the number of urban gardens across Detroit’s communities, there is a need for pollinators such as honeybees to help increase its yield.

The solitary bee home provided to Detroit Hives serves as a tool for pollination as well as an educational resource. Detroit Hives hosts tours and provides pollinator education for visitors, and nearby neighbors of the community.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan received bees, a honey bee hive and equipment from The Honeybee Conservancy, which will utilize them as part of their Seventh Generation Cultural Program. The program grows traditional Native foods on the Saginaw Chippewa grounds, and we’re confident that the honey bees, or aamoo, will help to increase crop yields for the Tribe’s monthly feasts.

Additionally, the honey bees will be used to teach Tribal children the importance of being good stewards of the earth, our reliance on nature, and a sense of community and cooperation. The elementary school, Saginaw Chippewa Academy, is located next to their Seventh Generation program, which allows the students to participate in many educational activities at Seventh Generation. They also serve our after-school program through our Tribal recreation department, and the Tribe is starting a Tribal Youth program for ages 12-17.

 

“Our program has a Native culture component that will utilize Seventh Generation and the aamoo wadiswan, or bee hive from The Honeybee Conservancy, to learn our traditional Ojibewe beliefs.”

Lisa Tiger,

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan

 

Cross Pollination Corridor

With a mission is to educate the community about the intimate relationship of between pollinators and our food supply, Cross Pollination Corridor is educating the public about the effects of using agrochemical and neonicotinoid to treat weeds and ornamental plants. “Using these chemicals has proven to cause immune suppression which cause the honey bee to be susceptible to the varroa mite problem. Like never before, whole colonies have been dying because of the mite problem. The bee are unable to fend off these mites, so they die,” says Rosalyn Flint, Director of Cross Pollination Corridor .

Cross Pollination Corridor will show the public alternative methods to using harmful chemicals on their plants. The Cross Pollination Corridor is a physical hub that includes a Bee Educational Center, Butterfly Art Studio, and Bat Educational Center.

Most of the Cross Pollination Corridor staff are experienced beekeepers with nearly 15 years of combined experience. The Corridor has a Ph.D Entomologist consultant for research and advice. The Cross Pollination Corridor is on 1 1/2 acres in the city of Detroit.