To say that Bees Alive! is a long time coming is an understatement. It has taken me several years along a convoluted path to arrive at this point. I’ll start at the end by saying “Welcome and enjoy!” Please feel free to send me suggestions and add your knowledge to this site (montrealtb at yahoo.ca). Bees Alive! is very much a work in progress. There is much more to add to the static pages, and I’ve found over the years that community makes everything better.
While I have worked in the beekeeping and honey-selling industry as an apprentice, and I have farmed and gardened as an apprentice, I am still technically an ‘aficionado’ and amateur. Simply put, I have a passion and soft spot for bees, flowers and food systems.
During a heavy period of career exploration and break-taking beginning in 2008, I took some time off to get my hands dirty. Literally. The goal was to get out of an office environment and explore my interests in food systems, environmental and community work in a more hands-on way. I spent eight months working with cChaos, a California-based non-profit organization. We set up small farmers’ markets in low-income neighbourhoods, making connections with farmers, community members, social service organizations, nutritionists, students, and so many more vital community resources. I was hooked, and I wanted to learn more…
My hands were about to get dirtier. Agriculture and horticulture have always been interests, but without a green thumb in the family, and with a healthy roster of other interests and hobbies to take up the too few hours, my childhood did not involve growing things of the edible or floral variety. I did spend part of a year working in orchards in New Zealand in 2000 – a breath of fresh air in several ways – but 2009 was about a much more serious dive into the soil. Hands in the earth, I found myself supporting customers of a farmers’ market and a community supported/shared agriculture program. I have a healthy respect for organic farmers – it is a good life, but a hard life, too. Farming, in general, is hard. Fighting against chemical agriculture and under-priced imports is even harder. I’d say that one of the best parts about selling produce that you grow is the opportunity to talk face-to-face with customers and educate and be educated.
Following the end of harvest season, I slipped into a multi-month apprenticeship with a master beekeeper. I felt I was both focusing and broadening my scope at the same time. Bees and their products are a niche market, but simultaneously, they are the canary in the coal mine of the food system. They tell you when the system is sick – they are crucial to our survival.
I spent a great deal of time dealing with raw, unprocessed honey and honey products, marketing and selling these products, building homes for bees, learning about equipment and seasonal issues, thinking about issues of animal ethics in relation to bees, and reading, asking questions, observing, and educating others. And of course, I spent time thinking about Bees Alive! becoming a reality.
So, I am more than hooked. As an environmentalist, nature-lover, researcher, educator and international community member, I have found a way to contribute. This site is about information, education and action.
My adventure continued. I spent 13 months in China during 2010-2011 – 8 months in rural Hunan province and 4-5 months on the tropical island of Hainan province off the southern coast of China. I posted some location-specific bee and honey information on bees and other insects, flower photos, and honey in China pages. I decided to return to North America, where I spent 6 months in Whitehorse, Yukon in northern Canada recovering from a lung infection incurred in China. After a year back in Canada, bolstered by renewed health and disheartened by a poor economy, I have returned to China.
Thanks for checking out this site and bothering to find out more about Bees Alive! Check regularly for updates. Since migrating over to WordPress, I’ve added a blog where I post new photos and stories of my own or those of Bees Alive! fans. Please connect with me on Facebook or subscribe to the blog feed to stay connected! You can also use the contact form below.