culture

Nicole Rivera Hartery: Changing the Face of Beekeeping

Nicole Rivera Hartery is a beekeeper and educator who brings personal style and a fresh outlook to a millennia-old industry. Formerly a fashion student, a visit to a museum in Philadelphia a few years ago sparked an interest in beekeeping which eventually led to a degree from Rutgers and producing her own honey — Bees on Main St.. “I wanted to do something I’m passionate about, and I really wanted to help the bees,” she says. “They need our help.”

The number of bees in the world is in a steady decline because of climate change and the destruction of their natural habitats. Rivera Hartery educates children and adults about the importance of bee pollination (which accounts for most of our fruit and vegetable production) and how hives function helping future generations understand the need to protect them. “We need them,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what type of diet you have, we need pollinators, they are crucial to our environment.”

Nicole Rivera Hartery

When Rivera was completing her beekeeping education, she noticed that there was an absence of people of color in the field, something she endeavors to change through her work. “it became my mission to expose young kids of color to beekeeping,” she says. Rivera Hartery wants to show that beekeeping is for everyone, entrepreneurial and important to protect the planet as we know it.

To tend to her hives, Rivera Hartery wears a full beekeeping suit but puts her own fashionable spin on the full-body protective suit that most people wouldn’t exactly call chic. She wears jewelry, bold lipstick, and braids in a nod to her Afro-Latina heritage and love for fashion and makeup. “There aren’t that many ways to show your personality through the suit since you’re mostly covered up, so this is how I do it,” she says.

I met with Rivera Hartery at Laurel Animal Hospital in New Jersey to find out more about beekeeping, why it’s important to bring more diversity to the field, and why we all need to care about the future of bees. Check out our video below:

Follow Nicole Rivera Hartery on Instagram here

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