BEEA Honey with Heart is a youth-led social enterprise project where participants (ages 12 - 17) are responsible for managing beehives, ensuring the well being of the bees, and educating their community on the importance of bees on a global level. With the help of Family SOS staff and community partners, the youth are developing a sustainable project that involves setting up apiaries in three community gardens that reside in at-risk communities in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Youth will be maintaining and harvesting food from the community garden plots and collecting honey from the hives. The honey harvested will be packaged and sold by the youth to local customers. Youth are learning concepts around the importance of hard work, community, environment and sustainable food.  BEEA Honey with Heart is teaching youth participants entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, and mentoring skills, while building self-confidence, creating a sense of belonging and enabling youth to feel empowered.
 
The BEEA Youth Executive Council (YEC) is made up of 4 youth from each community where the hives are located. Through the program, the YEC attend workshops related to beekeeping and operating a small business. There are three levels that the youth will work through – BEEA Environmentalist, BEEA Entrepreneur and BEEA Leader. Each of these levels include education sessions, community education requirements and volunteer hours. When a youth completes the entire BEEA program, they will receive a certification of completion, references from Family SOS, and potential post-secondary scholarship opportunities. 

Our hives are located in the Greystone Community of Spryfield, in Dartmouth North at the Guy Jacobs Community Garden, and the NSCC Ivany Campus in the North End of Halifax. In 2018 we are expanding to the communities of Dartmouth East at the NSCC Akerley Campus and East Preston at the Let's Grow Together community garden.

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I do this to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to leave a legacy in my community. As one of my business partners have quoted, “We are planting seeds in a garden we may never get to see, but we are so okay with that.”
—  Martina, 14
Before BEEA, our community of Greystone was different – it was missing something.. Starting our own business has changed our community. We are no longer viewed as a community where the youth don’t care, or are “bad”. We are now seen as young entrepreneurs and environmentalists.
— Melissa, 16

BEEA Honey with Heart FAQ’s

Where are you located?

We have hives at the Guy Jacobs Community Garden in North Dartmouth, the Greystone Community Garden in Spryfield and we are currently expanding into Dartmouth East at the NSCC Akerley Campus and Halifax at the NSCC IT Campus. We are also expanding into East Preston, location TBA.

How can my child get involved?

Email kim@familysos.ca for more information on spots available and to access the application forms.

Is there a cost to be involved?

There is no cost to be involved in BEEA Honey with Heart!

How old does my child have to be?

Youth participants must be in grade 7- 12.

Does my child need to know anything about bees?

Not at all! Most of our youth participants start out knowing very little. Each participant will complete a Beekeeping 101 course that will teach them the basics of beekeeping and they will get lots of assistance and guidance in the hives from Family SOS staff and our volunteer beekeeper.

What does the average BEEA week look like?

That depends on the season! During beekeeping season (normally May-October) youth do weekly hive checks. The day and times of these checks depend on the youths schedules, but once chosen, the weekly time stays consistent. In the summer, youth from all sites will meet once a month for further training. During the off season, youth from all sites meet every second Thursday evening to complete the BEEA program. If a training session is missed and the youth wants to progress to the next stage of the program, they can speak with Kim to make up a session during one of the scheduled “make up” days.

What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business that tackles social problems as it’s primary objective by using business techniques to help improve social well-being. For BEEA, we use our business to educate the community on the importance of bees. We also provide the youth sessions on environmental sustainability and community building.

Can I buy honey?

Email Kim at kim@familysos.ca to see if there is any honey left in stock! We will have two harvests this summer – if there isn’t any left in stock, we will have more bottled in the months to come.

Is beekeeping safe?

While bee stings are rare and non-life threatening for most, we make sure to follow every precaution. All youth wear full bee suits when near the hives to ensure there is no bare skin showing. Hive checks are done only during suitable conditions to make sure we are not bothering the bees when they may be already agitated (bad weather will make them cranky!) We also have epi-pens at all locations, in the case of an emergency and a Family SOS beekeeper will always be with youth when there is a hive check in progress.