Trent Apiary: Where We Came From and Where We Are Going

Photo by Emily Sytsma.

Trent Apiary started about seven years ago in 2013, as the passion project of a Trent student named Whitney Lake. Her vision was to build a honeybee project at Trent that could eventually facilitate experiential learning in Trent classes. Since then, it has changed and grown but maintains the original vision of becoming an educational space for students. Trent Apiary is now run by a small group of students. We keep bees on campus, some years we have six hives, and other years up to ten. We also run workshops and hold events for students. Our volunteers meet weekly to chat about bee stuff, organize our upcoming events and ongoing projects, and otherwise take it bee-sy.

This year, our big project was to become a levy group. We reached at least 800 students with our petition, so I am sure that some of you reading may know a bit about our campaign. Unfortunately, due to some logistical mishap we weren’t successful with our application. This is a real shame, because our volunteers have been working tirelessly since September.

I want to take this time to thank every student who signed the petition, and every volunteer who devoted their time to gathering signatures. As well, I would like to thank OPIRG who houses a ton of our equipment, and have supported us in so many ways. The management and staff at the Seasoned Spoon Café have also supported us by selling our honey, and holding a space for our levy petition in the Café. As well, I would like to thank Trent Vegetable Gardens who have been vital in helping us grow over the years, and especially in helping us hire our first ever paid staff member. Finally, thank you to all of the departments, groups, and individuals who have purchased our honey or donated to us over the years.

I hope that the momentum we built this year will help to drive us full force into the next. Before starting the process, I thought hard about the choice to become a levy group. There have been so many complications with levy groups in the past few years at Trent; the Student Choice Initiative is just one example. I wondered if students still wanted to support small groups like us. I wondered if Trent, or Peterborough, or Ontario still maintained a culture of collective action and cooperation. Through this process, I found that Trent really did want us to thrive, and for that I am very grateful.

What I have learned at the Apiary is that bees are fascinating creatures. And though it is so very cheesy to say, they can be an excellent metaphor for human communities — at least in terms of the power of collective action. Bees have also shown me how tenuous complex systems are, and how easy it is to make mistakes. Keeping the beehives alive takes insight and a thorough understanding about their patterns and lifecycles. It is not an easy job, but it is certainly made easier when we work together.

Trent Apiary is just an idea; what’s most important are the people who keep it alive, who work hard to learn and put this idea into action. It has taken a village to bring the Apiary to where it is now, and I am so excited to see what we can do in the years to come.

A thank-you illustration from Trent Apiary. Illustration by and courtesy of Brazil Gaffney Knox.
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