Dickinson’s beekeeping cooperative, the Hive, is implementing new changes to its training and levels of involvement ahead of a packed April.
Erik Smith ’22, the Hive’s intern at the Center for Sustainability Education, hopes that the updates to the cooperative will improve accessibility and encourage a greater number of students to get involved.
“We realized that [the previous training system] wasn’t working…we didn’t have a good way to keep track of how that would be managed, so I took away that structure and worked everything that we need into the existing structure, which is based around 4 working groups,” Smith explained.
The Hive’s four working groups—Beekeeping, Honey Harvesting, Native Bees & Pollinators, and Value-Added Products—are meant to allow members to explore all aspects of beekeeping, from tending to the bees themselves to making products like honey and beeswax candles.
In the past, Hive training modules—a prerequisite to participation in several cooperative activities—were not tailored well to the needs of working groups, especially those which required less intensive training.
The new Hive trainings allow new participants to address multiple working groups’ requirements at the same time. “We’ve also done a little bit of revamp on the website to make it more navigable and explain what we do a little better,” Smith added.
The changes come just in time for a busy month for multiple working groups and will ideally allow more students to join in faster. On April 8th, the Value-Added Products group is getting together to design and plan a new batch of cooperative T-shirts, with attendees being offered a free shirt of their own for helping. The following week, a live hive check will take place on April 14th, with options to participate in-person or watch virtually.
The month culminates for the Hive on April 17th, when the Native Bees & Pollinators working group will host a simultaneously in-person and remote gathering on the benefits of pollinator-friendly gardens. Attendees must complete a pollination-specific training module, which will test the efficacy of the Hive’s changes. This “Working With Pollinators” event is meant to intersect with Dickinson’s month-long involvement in the EcoChallenge, where participants compete against other schools to commit to sustainable behaviors.
Looking to the future, Smith hopes that the Hive’s re-organization will encourage a shift from a “horizontal,” or hierarchical, model of leadership, to a “vertical” collective where there is more collaboration between members.
“We really [want to] make it a volunteer-based network where the intern is more of a coordinator that’s making people’s ideas happen and helping people realize what they can do rather than telling them what they can do,” Smith said.