Food Justice Beekeeper ProgramSponsored by Zarbee’s
Washington, D.C. | Baltimore, MD
Philadelphia, PA | Newark, NJ
Beekeeping Training, Supplies, and Mentorship for Community Growers
This program will provide free beginner beekeeping training and resources to ten urban farmers or community gardeners in Washington (D.C.), Baltimore (MD), Philadelphia (PA), and Newark (NJ) whose work directly bolsters access to sustainably-grown produce for underserved communities. The award will include:
- Enrollment in eCornell’s Beekeeping Essentials 5-week, online, instructor-led course from February 1st – March 7th, 2023.
- Beekeeping supplies and equipment for one beekeeper and up to two hives in the spring of 2023.
- Up to two packages of live bees, to be cared for and managed by awardees.
- Mentorship from The Bee Conservancy’s staff Master Beekeepers.
A Beekeeping Essentials Certificate from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be awarded to individuals who successfully pass the course.
The application cycle for the 2023 cohort is now closed.
The Link Between Bees and Food Justice
Bees pollinate 1 in 3 bites of food that we eat, and are essential to secure food systems. Studies have shown that beekeeping can help increase crop yields significantly. This program seeks to bolster yield and community resilience through an award of beekeeping training, equipment, and mentorship at food justice organizations in Washington (D.C.), Baltimore (MD), Philadelphia (PA), and Newark (NJ).
According to the USDA, 13.5 million households in the U.S. were food insecure at some period during 2021. In addition, rates of food insecurity are higher among racial and ethnic minority groups. For example, while the mean rate of food insecurity in the United States was 10.5% in 2019, it was 22.5% among Black populations and 18.5% among Hispanic populations.
Beekeeping can be a costly skill to learn and maintain to ensure bees are healthy and well managed. The Bee Conservancy’s Food Justice Beekeeper Award Sponsored by Zarbee’s provides access to training and materials for under-resourced communities to increase pollination services, build practical skills, and advance local food resiliency.
Meet Our Awardees for the 2023 Beekeeping Season
“This would be an incredible opportunity for me, ensuring that I’m engaging in beekeeping best practices. eCornell’s training would also help us reach our most important goal: to create a safe space where members of our community can gather, learn about bees, and create enriching educational experiences for youth.”
Nia Kiara Cole
Juniper’s Garden and DC Mutual Aid Apothecary
“We’ll be able to offer a myriad of products such as infused honey, beeswax, soap, propolis, and more. Through the mutual aid CSA and knowledge sharing, products and training can be provided to underserved communities that otherwise would not have access to these resources.”
Watkins Regional Urban Farm Incubator
“This training will enable me to support native and honeybee populations, provide honey to families served by the Upper Marlboro Food Bank, and gain a better understanding of bees’ behavior, needs, and intelligence.”
Avery Brown Cross
Capital Area Food Bank’s Urban Demonstration Garden
“Each year, we’ve sourced and distributed food for more than 45 million meals across DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Our food assistance network includes soup kitchens, emergency shelters, senior programs, and other nonprofits. We also help 10 percent of our region receive food when they need it.”
“This training program would greatly benefit our organization’s food justice goals and allow us to feed more of our community. It’s also a phenomenal opportunity for educational programming. Having knowledge about pollinators is necessary to achieve food sovereignty, so this would be a truly amazing opportunity.”
“I began my food justice work with the launch of my nonprofit organization, which prepares and delivers plant-based meals to residents in Ward 8. In 2020, I officially became a 501c3 and also started small scale farming. To date, I’ve hosted between 50 and 60 volunteers.”
Love Bug Farm
“I’ve spent nearly a decade volunteering and apprenticing at farms. This year, I started my own farm at an urban farm incubator space. Nearly all the produce I grew was sold to farmers markets that serve communities that lack access to fresh, nutritious food.”
“I’m the owner of Philly Forests, a 2.5-acre urban vegetable farm in Northwest Philadelphia that operates a CSA program and weekly farmers market. We use a percentage of crop to fund our Urban Ecology Program for 13 Philadelphia zip codes with the lowest tree canopy.”
“I’m a DC native who grew up in a food desert and now work with THEARC Farm to grow produce for Ward 8. With one grocery store for almost 90,000 residents, most of our community members receive food assistance and turn to farmers markets and mobile markets for fresh produce.”
Greater Newark Conservancy
“This program will help ensure we continue to provide affordable fresh produce to community members and families who are economically disadvantaged, increase awareness of the benefits of fresh produce, and reduce the percentage of families and individuals who lack access to fresh food.”
Healthy Bees Help Food Sovereignty
Through the lens of food justice, threats to honey bee health are a direct threat to communities that depend on locally-grown crops for healthy food.
Honey bees are the primary commercial pollinator in the U.S., adding more than $18B in revenue to crop production each year, according to the USDA. However, the Bee Informed Partnership cites an average of 37.9% colony loss rate annually over the last 11 years due to factors like pests, disease, pesticides, and habitat loss.
The Food Justice Beekeeper program helps ensure that small-scale, localized growers who use honey bees to grow fresh food and establish food sovereignty in underserved communities have best in class mentorship and training to ensure their bees — and surrounding ecology — are healthy and thrive.
Eligibility, Requirements, and Local Ordinances
TBC’s Food Justice Beekeeper Program Sponsored by Zarbee’s is dedicated to supporting underserved and underrepresented communities, whether it be cultural, racial, socio-economic, or other historically excluded backgrounds. According to the USDA, rates of food insecurity are higher among racial and ethnic minority groups; BIPOC applicants are encouraged to apply.
Applicants are required to
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Work or volunteer with a community garden, urban farm, or food justice organization in the Washington (D.C.), Baltimore (MD), Philadelphia (PA), Newark (NJ) area.
- Have little or no experience in beekeeping (maximum of one year).
- Not be an affiliate, employee, or immediate family member of The Bee Conservancy, Zarbee’s, or Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs.
Sources: Maryland.gov, Agrisk.umd.edu, Communitylaw.org, health.baltimorecity.gov
- Register the hive(s) with the city within 30 days of colony establishment with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and then on or before January 1st annually thereafter.
- Register and apply for a permit with the Baltimore City Health Department’s Animal Control.
- Provide access for inspection of the hive(s) by the Maryland Department of Agriculture within 30 days of colony establishment, and then annually thereafter. Contact Maryland Apiary Inspector, Cybil Preston, at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an inspection every year. The inspector works with beekeepers to help them treat problems and maintain healthy colonies.
- Provide access for inspection by the Office of Animal Control as needed.
- No more than two 2 hives, each containing no more than 1 swarm, shall be allowed for lots up to 2,500 square feet of lot area. On lots greater than 2,500 sq. ft., one additional hive, containing no more than one swarm may be kept for every 2,500 sq. ft. of lot area over 2,500 sq. ft.
- Hives kept either against a solid, five-foot wall or five feet away from any lot line.
- Do not keep hives where they are accessible to the general public. Honeybee movement to and from the hive should not interfere with the property of others. Honeybees may be kept in yards, porches, balconies, roofs, or anywhere the beekeeper can accommodate them.
- Keep bees on moveable frames.
- A water source must be provided.
- The possession of Africanized Bees is prohibited.
- Follow the honey extraction rules written out here.
- Abide with any county specific rules or regulations.
Sources: philadelphiabeekeepers.org, agriculture.pa.gov
- All apiaries, regardless of size, need to be registered with the PA Department of Agriculture (includes a $10 fee). Registration remains valid for no more than two calendar years and will expire on December 31 of the year following the initial year of registration.
- The beekeeper should provide access to the PA Department of Agriculture, the chief apiary inspector, and any apiary inspector to the premises in which bees, queen bees, wax, honey, hives or appliances may be kept or stored.
- No beekeeper is allowed to knowingly keep in their possession without proper treatment any colony of bees affected with any bee disease or expose any diseased colony or infected hive or appliance so that flying bees may have access to them. No person can sell, barter, give away, accept, receive, or transport any bees affected with any bee disease.
- Honey packing and sale regulations are governed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Food Safety.
Participants in this program are required to:
- Commit to completing and passing the 5-week eCornell Beekeeping Essentials Course during the following dates: February 1st – March 7th, 2023. (3-5 hours of coursework each week; 90+% grade on 14 quizzes, completion of a final project.)
- Commit to the ongoing care of and management of at least one honey bee hive at your site, with hive inspections every two weeks, plus additional maintenance as needed.
- Approval from your organization’s management to house at least one honeybee hive on site. If your organization’s management and the site management are different entities, you will need approval from both. You will be required to submit a signed letter of agreement provided by The Bee Conservancy upon acceptance to the program.
- Meet all of the technical requirements listed on this page to participate in a remote eCornell program.
Washington, D.C. Regulations
- Register the hive(s) with the city within 30 days of colony establishment (includes a $10 fee) and then annually thereafter by April 1st.
- Provide access for inspection of the hive(s) by the Department of Energy & Environment Inspector, Natasha Garcia Andersen within 30 days of colony establishment, and then annually thereafter. Contact the Apiary Inspector at email@example.com to request an inspection every year. The inspector works with beekeepers to help them treat problems and maintain healthy colonies.
- No more than four hives on a single property unless the property is greater than a one-quarter acre (10,890 sq. ft.) or they have permission from the Department.
- A colony may not be established in a multi-unit building without written permission from the property manager or owner.
- Hives must be set back more than 15 feet from a property line or have a regulation flyway barrier or annual neighbor permission.
- Adequate space in the hive to prevent overcrowding and swarming. The beekeeper is responsible for the remediation of bee swarms and nuisance conditions. If a beekeeper fails to fulfill this obligation, the owner of the property on which a hive is located shall be responsible for remediating these conditions, and the beekeeper shall reimburse the property owner for the costs incurred by the remediation.
- Keep bees on movable frames.
- A water source must be provided.
- The possession of Africanized Bees is prohibited.
- All beekeepers must register hives with the NJ Department of Agriculture and provide access for inspection of the hives by the Department. All bee yards in New Jersey where bees are over-wintering must be registered annually with the Department of Agriculture.
- Colony density cannot exceed 3 hives per ¼ acre. For every two colonies, there can be one nucleus colony (from March 1st through October 31st).
- A substantial barrier must be put in place to prevent animals and children from coming into close contact with the hives.
- All hives should be a minimum of 10 feet from any property line and at least 25 feet from any roadside, sidewalk, or path. When a colony is situated less than 10 feet from a property line, the beekeeper must establish a flyway barrier. This should be at least 6 feet tall and extend 10 feet beyond the colony on either side. It can be solid, vegatative, or any combination of the two, that forces the bees to cross the property line at a height of 6 feet.
- A constant and continuous source of water must be provided year round on the same property as the hives.
- All colonies must be kept in moveable frame hives.
- A beekeeper should frequently inspect hives and manage them to address swarming.
- While the regulations do not require a beekeeper to be a member of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, it is strongly encouraged for all beekeepers to do so. For more information, visit: www.njbeekeepers.org
The Bee Conservancy’s Food Justice Beekeeper Program is sponsored by Zarbee’s, with a vision for community resilience that lies at the intersection of Zarbee’s philosophy of care for people and planet and The Bee Conservancy’s mission to secure environmental and food justice.