Beekeeping for me is the answer to my life’s calling — to work in harmony with the rhythms of nature while supporting the physical and spiritual wellbeing of my family and communities. The Black Hives Matter Project was born out of an opportunity to purchase the apiary (bee farm) where I work in Nevada City, California — bringing a loved and long-standing honey business under Black ownership in the least diverse county in California, while providing food, medicine, employment and educational opportunities to my community.
It would be a dream come true for my family to step into this role — but it’s not just about us. The history of African Americans and beekeeping is long and deep, and has been one of the victims of the systematic erasure of the contributions of Black farmers from the records of history. I believe that there is immense power in the reconnection of this African diasporic insect and the African diasporic peoples in the Americas. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reclaim this relationship and share it with all of my communities.
It is unsettling that a google search of the history of African American beekeepers turns up almost nothing. History tells us that the "European" Honey Bee was brought to this continent by way of the Virginian colony in 1622, shortly after the first enslaved African peoples arrived in Virginia in 1619. The enslaved peoples of Africa were the force behind most of the agriculture in what would become America. The conclusion that enslaved Africans were beekeepers in North America is self evident.
The relationship of African Americans and bees is deeper still. The domestic honeybee widespread across the globe, including America is known as the European Honeybee although science confirms that this bee originated on the African continent. In fact the earliest depictions of domesticated bees are hieroglyphs in ancient Egypt. And the traditions are still alive — ancestral beekeeping is an ancient practice carried out by tribes in Kenya such as the Kamba, Maasai, Samburu, and Mbeere. As Black people of the African diaspora, we deserve our relationship as stewards of this diasporic pollinator to be recognized historically, and to be integral participants in the field of beekeeping today. It bears repeating that there is immense power in the reconnection of this African diasporic insect, and the African diasporic peoples in the Americas.
About our bees:
Our bees are kept across multiple counties in the Sierra, providing pollination for local farms and creating a sustainable circuit that keeps small agriculture businesses alive. The recent waves of colony collapse (it is considered average for beekeepers to lose 40% of their hives each year) are primarily due to pesticides and parasitic mites. As stewards of these tiny and majestic creatures, we are committed to maintaining environmentally sustainable healthy hive practices. As a testament to the care and skill my team and I will bring to this project, my hives generally suffer less than 25% losses — significantly lower than the national average.
Why now + What we need:
STRETCH GOAL: You all crushed through the first goal in less than 48 hours. But we were telling the truth about that being the bare minimum needed and we're going to keep going! Our new goal is $40,000 — which will help us be more prepared for the challenges of starting a new business, and start to build our resources for acquiring a new location for the business — one that we hope will be large enough to contain a variety of farming and healing projects! We are overwhelmed by the amount of community support we're finding in the project and are going to keep it going as long as you will. Thank you, the bees thank you, please keep helping make this dream come true.
We have already secured over $130,000 for this project — $100,000 from a business loan and $30,000 of our life savings. We need $150,000 to move through a contract to purchase the apiary.
That’s why we’re asking you to help us raise $20,000 — the bare minimum we need to move this deal through. Anything raised over this minimum will go towards expediting our process towards achieving our goal of setting up educational programming about beekeeping and the history of Black beekeeping in the United States.
We were offering gifts for donations but we have been informed this is against GoFundMe policy so we can no longer offer that. if you previously donated please reach out to us privately.
Please donate, like, and share widely. Like bees, we humans aren’t designed to thrive alone.
Music for video provided by Hannah Mayree: soundcloud.com/hannah-mayree
- Adrienne Winter
- Taylor Farrell
- Amber Magnolia Hill
- Lisa Nowlain