Detroit: The Place to Bee

Bees are a landmark of a healthy agricultural system for home gardeners and large growers alike, but what do they mean for underserved communities? Turns out, more than anyone thought. We spoke with Detroit Hives, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization, founded in 2017 by Timothy Jackson and Nicole Lindsey in Detroit, Michigan US to find out how urban bee farming contributes to food security and community.

Our mission here at Detroit Hives is to create sustainable communities and bee populations by transforming vacant lots into educational apiaries. Currently, we exist in over 13 locations from reclaimed vacant properties to local schools and communities gardens.

Within three years, we have educated millions on bee conservation through our documentary Detroit Hives, and thousands of local residents through our Bee The Change program – a conservation fellowship designed to empower and equip Detroit’s youth to become community change agents, so they can learn how to combat blight, vacant lots and food deserts within their community. We hosted over 1,000 educational tours for the community, founded National Urban Beekeeping Day, and partnered with The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy to pass a resolution recognizing The City of Detroit as an official Bee City. Through these actions we have made a local, national, and international impact.

We have inspired community residents to also serve as change agents. In 2018, nearly 30,000 Detroiters did not have access to health food, often leaving them with the limited options of gas stations, liquor stores and fast food restaurants for their meals. Overtime, those options pose health risks and impact the community at large. Rather than settle for those restricted choices, the community took action with the city’s vacant lots – more than 70,000 of them – and have reimagined them into urban gardens. Between the natural biodiversity sprouting in the areas still left unattended and the gardens, the bees can flourish and create a community of their own which directly benefits all involved.

This year we expanded to Kansas City, Missouri with MO Hives KC, an affiliate of Detroit Hives, and lastly our work has been recognized by our city government with a Spirit of Detroit Award. As many others begin to take on the leadership of beekeeping, the next frontier will support bee, biodiversity, and ethnic diversity.