Like to Eat? Thank a Bee.

Kate Franzman, beekeeper and urban farmer

Kate Franzman, beekeeper and urban farmer

Kate Franzman is one of many fabulous people who keep the “indie” in Indianapolis. Concerned about the die-off of honeybees, she started Bee Public with a goal of increasing the number of honeybees in our city. The organization has placed hives at several urban farms, including one right in my neighborhood.

She’s a writer too, and her first-person story is featured in the current issue of Indianapolis Monthly. I generally don’t shrink from bees myself, but her description of capturing a swarm as a novice beekeeper is truly impressive.

Swarm on a fence post in summer 2013. Kate scooped them by (gloved) hand into a box before transporting them to their new home at South Circle Farm.

Swarm on a fence post in summer 2013. Kate scooped them by (gloved) hand into a box before transporting them to their new home at South Circle Farm.

Her passion for these pollinators leads her to give talks and workshops emphasizing their importance. “Since 2006, we’ve lost more than one-third of our honeybee colonies nationwide, due in major part to Colony Collapse Disorder, an alarming phenomenon that occurs when the bees mysteriously desert their hive and die,” she writes.

“One out of every three bites of food we eat was made possible by a bee. So no bees, no food.”

Kate and a few of the creatures on whom our lives depend

Kate and a few of the creatures on whom our lives depend

The unusually harsh winter killed all the bees in Bee Public’s hives, so Kate initiated a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to replace the honeybees. The response has been one of “unprecedented generosity,” prompting her to pledge to purchase replacement bees for other urban farmers and expand the network of hives.

On May 10 at Pogue’s Run Grocer, Kate will present Bees 101, an overview of how to create a bee-friendly backyard. And if you want to take it further, Bee Public offers consulting and hive setup for local restaurants, community gardens, and urban farms. There’s even a sponsorship option for people not in a position to have a hive. Check out Bee Public’s site and Facebook page!

All photos courtesy of Bee Public.

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