Next Friday, illustrator and beekeeper Jana Kinsman will be presenting on November’s global theme of Death, touching on a less focused-on angle— the declining bee population and how bees’ survival is closely intertwined with our own. 

To give you a little preview– and because we’re so excited to learn more about the awesome work she does in our city–we reached out to Jana early with a few questions. 

Check out the interview below, and join us next Friday at Savage Smyth!

What three words that start with the letter “D” would you use to describe yourself/your personality?
Determined, diligent, defiant


I understand Bike a Bee’s workspace is based out of The Plant. Has being a part of The Plant’s community changed your practice or your business in any way?

If anything it reinforces it. We all encourage each other to be more sustainable, and support one another in that direction. Everyone there is also an incredible resource in every way—help, materials, ideas, friendship


What has been a surprising part of sharing your beekeeping with schools and community spaces?
How willing and excited many places are to host a beehive full of stinging insects. I thought it would be harder, but so many of the locations will do anything to get one!


What’s the first thing you like to share with people who are unfamiliar with the practice of beekeeping?
That you’re dealing with a wild insect super-organism, that it’s nothing like a pet dog or farm chicken. That it’s a craft, and a very challenging one, and that failure is part of the experience.


How did your portrait service Doodlebooth come into being?
I was invited to sell prints of my work at a designer-centric holiday fundraiser but I didn’t have any so I asked if I could draw people at the party for $10 each. It was a hit, and as I was leaving i said to the organizer, “I’m going to turn this jnto a business! I’ll call it doodlebooth, like photobooth but with doodles!” Two weeks later I had a business plan and a domain registered.


What’s one valuable thing you’ve learned from observing bees?
Countless things. Truly. It has been lifechanging. You see the interconnectedness of the entire world.


Given this month’s theme of death, what has beekeeping taught you about the circle of life?
Exactly that. That life is a circle. The seasons are a circle. everything has a purpose and a reason in nature and life.


I read that some cultures have mythologies that describe bees as a connection between the natural world and the afterlife. Does the practice of beekeeping vary greatly around the world?
Oh yes. Apis mellifera, the species of bee we keep in the US, is originally from eurasia. Many ancient civilizations kept bees. Many were honey hunters who took honey and bee larvae from wild colonies. To humans, ancient or modern, the idea of a social insect is fascinating and warrants deep respect.Other Apis species are kept in different ways in other areas of the world, like in India or China or south america. It’s a fascinating wide world of insect stewardship! But with Apis mellifera, the basics of the craft of beekeeping have changed very little. The hives and tools have been tweaked over the decades but the basic principles remain the same.