Bees are an integral part of our food system. Yet, in recent years, disturbing things have happened to bees. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious disease that decimates entire hives, has become rampant in our bee populations. Scientists theorize that this is due to increased pesticide use, mono-cultures, and the way bees are treated in industrial agriculture. So what can you do? This is where Grand Rapids based Wild Mitten Honeybee Co-op comes in.
This new venture, undertaken by Joshua Kruis and Teresa DeJager, was founded to involve more people in bee-keeping and create a better understanding of these fascinating, awe-inspiring creatures. A business or individual can buy a share of a hive and in return receive information about bees, first-hand interaction with the hive, and a portion of the honey the hive produces. This is particularly effective in urban areas such as Grand Rapids, where there are diverse crops (vs. the monoculture crops that have taken over rural land) and cross-pollination can occur easily. Currently, there are strict ordinances on urban beekeeping. One goal of Kruis and DeJager is to loosen these regulations, making it easier for the average city dweller to tend to a hive or for a business to host a colony on their roof top.
Funds from co-op members will be used to establish new hives as well as to create an apiary at The Izaak Walton League – a 39 acre nature preserve just 15 minutes north of Grand Rapids. It will be used as a home for bees as well as a gathering place for education and community.
The appreciation and affinity Kruis and DeJager have for the bees is evident in their detailed description of the intelligence these creatures possess. DeJager’s eyes grow bright as she recounts the calming effect observing a hive produces. A smile creeps across Kruis’ face as he listens to her talk, clearly reminiscing of many hours spent watching the bees. This couple is passionate; about bees, about honey, and about deepening our connection with the earth and the creatures it holds. Just as bees cooperate together for the health and prosperity of their hive, we can cooperate to care for them and in turn nurture the health of our crops, environment, and ourselves.