Thanks to a generous grant from the Father Clement H. Kern Foundation, VEJ's Hope House & Gardens will become home to a new Bees in the D hive in 2020, the first in Brightmoor/Old Redford.
"It's been a wish of ours to install a Bees in the D hive at Hope House & Gardens," said VEJ executive director BT Irwin. "Our thanks to the Father Clement H. Kern Foundation are only just beginning."
Bees in the D is an award-winning, nationally-recognized nonprofit organization "whose mission is to create a cooperative effort between residents, schools, organizations and businesses in the city of Detroit and southeast Michigan to contribute to both the health of honey bee colonies and the education of their importance to our environment."
Bees in the D manages 9 million honey bees at 160 hives at 50 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition to managing the hives, Bees in the D offers education, training, and volunteer programs for neighbors and students.
"Just having the hive at Hope House & Gardens is going to increase crop yield and the natural beauty of our garden," said Irwin. "But more important, it will benefit every flower and fruit and vegetable garden within two to three miles."
Irwin said that classes, demonstrations, and training for aspiring beekeepers will be part of the Bees in the D program at Hope House & Gardens. In a year or two, it may even be possible for VEJ to make and sell its own honey at local farmer's markets.
Watch for more information about VEJ's partnership with Bees in the D in early 2020.
Pollinators are animals, like bees, that help plants make fruit or seeds. They do this by moving pollen from one part of the flower or plant to another. The more pollinators, the more flowers and fruit.
Oakland University recently found in a study that VEJ has one of metro Detroit's strongest gardens for supporting pollinators.
Over the course of a growing season, researchers from the university observed and recorded pollinator populations and varieties at 15 gardens and small farms in metro Detroit. Their study found that VEJ's Hope House & Gardens supported the greatest number of wild bees and second greatest number of all kinds of pollinators.
"This goes to show that sometimes you make a difference in ways you don't expect or plan for," said VEJ executive director BT Irwin. "Whatever you give the Earth, the Earth gives back a hundred times more."
The study took place in 2017. Since then, VEJ has installed even more flowers and growth that pollinators like. With the news that Hope House & Gardens will get its own Bees in the D hive in 2020, VEJ will grow its contributions to Detroit's ecology even more.
"When most people think of a garden, they think of how many people it can feed," said Irwin. "But a garden is a lot more than just food. It's beauty and tranquility. It's therapy. It's a source of beauty and life way, way beyond its borders. We're so grateful that VEJ's little garden is helping gardens and plant life and kitchen tables all over our neighborhood."
VEJ's garden season is still going strong and you can be part of it: