noun plural \əpo idēə, āˈp-, aˈp-\
1. a superfamily of Hymenoptera comprising the true bees that forage pollinating plants as their primary food source. They are gatherers unlike their carnivorous relatives, the wasps. There are approximately 20,000 species of bees globally and around 450 species in Pennsylvania specifically.
2. a [studio + apiary] of creative engagement focused on developing deeper understanding of ecological balances required to provide diverse feed and shelter to beneficial bee species.
Honeybee [Apis mellifera] Leafcutter Bee [Megachilid genera] Bumblebee [Bombus species]
The term, “apiary” traditionally designates a place for the keeping honeybees (Apis mellifera). Highly desired by mankind for its honey and beeswax, the honeybee has often overshadowed other bee species whose ecological value have gone largely unnoticed and unappreciated. The core belief of apoidea apiary is that modern beekeeping, with ecological consciousness at it’s heart, should strive deepen the human connection to ALL beneficial bee species and not just a select few. The name apoidea was chosen for the apiary as this word is the scientific name for the entire big bee superfamily, reflecting our desire to be inclusive of all bee species that benefit humans and the natural world in which we live.
For almost a decade, apoidea’s principle beekeeper, Christina Neumann, has been working intimately with a diversity of bee species, developing apoidea as a working studio for exploration and insight. As a Carnegie Mellon-trained architect with a focus in sustainable design, Christina’s practice focuses on the interconnections between the human structures and the natural environments in which they are built. Her experiences in green architectural design inspires her to forge an ever deepening relationship with bee species, organisms that provide an essential window into the health of ecosystems that support human agriculture and civilization itself. From 2008-09, she gained significant practical knowledge of honeybees and artisanal honey production working as a commercial beekeeper on the Big Island of Hawaii for the Volcano Island Honey Company. During her employment with Volcano Island, her contribution focused on implementing advanced Integrated Pest Management for this certified organic apiary. Volcano Island’s highly conscious meditative approach to beekeeping left a deep impact on Christina’s own development as an apiarist and serves as an inspiration for apoidea’s principles and practice.
Christina currently manages an apiary of 50-80 hives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more than a decade, she has been naturally breeding Northern honeybee stock and also raises mason bees (Osmia lignaria) and leafcutter bees (Megachile rotundata) at her urban apiary. Christina is the co-founder of Burgh Bees, a Pittsburgh Area urban beekeeping organization, and was a guiding hand in developing the long term landscaping strategy for the pollinator gardens surrounding the Homewood Cooperative Apiary. In addition to managing her own bees at 9 urban and suburban outyards around the City of Pittsburgh, she is the apiary consult for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Chatham Eden Hall Farm and Rivendale Farm. She gives presentations and conducts design charettes specifically on landscape strategies for increased pollinator forage, particularly incorporating high nectar-yielding tree species. Believing first and foremost that beekeeping should be about practicing awareness, she conducts guided meditations through observation and drawing to refocus the mind and body on the task of caring for delicate sensitive creatures.
Christina working hives with Volcano Island Honey during the macademia nut bloom in early January.
Honeybees enjoying a snack of kiawe honey, the staple honey crop of Volcano Island Honey Company.