Since the 1950s, the bee population around the world has declined at an alarming rate, especially in urban areas where they lack adequate habitat.
When Brian Roest-Peterson was offered the opportunity to take a beekeeping course on Beaver Island, hosted by Oakland University, he caught “the virus.” Since then, for the past 13 years, Roest-Peterson and her husband, also named Brian, have been dedicated to setting up aviaries across Detroit and collecting and selling honey from bees, which has resulted in their has earned their name of “Bees in the D”. (You understand?)
Currently, BITD is involved in a wide variety of partnerships in the Detroit area, from installing beehives atop the TFC Center in Detroit to working with local restaurants and breweries. In addition to helping save Detroit’s bees, BITD also works closely with schools and universities in the Detroit metro area to provide education on the importance of bees to the agricultural world.
Roest-Peterson notes the difference between a community bee approach from the start of BITD and now.
“When we started the organization, we expected a lot of push back from people because of (the fear of bees stinging), but in fact it was just the opposite,” he says. “We have received nothing but praise and support for helping our pollinators.”
In the midst of “Pollinator Week,” designated June 21-27, BITD announced that in the summer of 2022, the central city of Detroit will be home to a pollinator center and a series of botanical gardens. The center and gardens will use vacant land in Core City, helping to rebuild the neighborhood.
“We love the central location,” says Roest-Peterson. “We love the natural vibe of the Core City area that takes place there, and we already have bees in a cut flower garden that is in Core City.” The pollinator center will be home to different plants and bees, providing exposure and education to the community.
Beyond their educational goal, BITD hopes the center will act as a community hub and work to connect the Core City community, as well as tourists, with nature.
“We really want the center to be a neighborhood community center where not only can we use it as an education center to learn about the importance of bees and even beekeeping skills, but it can also be a place where people can come, you know, to enjoy nature in the city, ”says Roest-Peterson. “We are going to have a lot of gardens and our partnerships will last. ”
BITD is working with DTE Energy to equip the center with solar panels to make it sustainable. In addition to the center, BITD plans to add an outdoor wedding venue and a large garden, with the aim of making the center “the place to be, in the D”, as Roest = Peterson puts it.
Until the center is launched, BITD will continue to save and restore beehives in the city and organize stalls at different festivals to work on the educational aspect of the program.
Perhaps those who visit the center next summer will catch the same virus as the Brians 13 years ago.