Beekeeping in Brooklyn

Jun 26, 2009

Maybe it’s because of our subway ads and the logo, or maybe it’s because people know how independent and energetic our members are, but I know many people who hear Freelancers Union and think, “Oh, the bee people!" That is why a story in the New York Times last week jumped out at me. It was about the underground bee-keeping movement afoot in New York City. While keeping a bee hive in NYC is currently illegal, a growing number of people are doing exactly that. It also got me thinking: **How similar are our members to the beekeepers and the bees themselves? **Now bear with me: Both have colonies under strain. Just like our national and local economy, bee colonies have fallen on some tough times, going beyond a full scale recession to outright extinction in some areas. Colony collapse is a phenomenon that got a lot of news play a few months ago. Basically massive numbers of honey bees were failing to return to their hives after going out to collect pollen, wiping out native colonies of bees in whole regions almost overnight. Just as bee colonies are under unprecedented stress, many freelancers are finding themselves threatened in this current economic climate. The fight to make a living, to keep your way of life and the freedom and opportunity it affords, is an everyday struggle. Not to mention the struggle to procure health insurance, save for the future . . . . **Both are industrious. Bees are, well, busy as bees! **People freelance for different reasons, but one thing everyone realizes is that you work your butts off to make your career a success, often times alone. Sometimes it can be infuriating that you’re doing everything as an individual, but that also is your strength. You’re out there, making pitches, networking, selling your skills, and locking down gigs as an individual, giving you a leg up on other companies and associations. Freelancers Union offers a “hive” to go back to at the end of the day that can act as a multiplier and connect you to other professionals, offer training services, and advice! Both support “the whole system.” Bees are the most prosperous and efficient of the pollinators out there and without their services billions of dollars of crops would wither on the vine and food shortages, already a problem in many parts of the world, could become a reality across North America. Freelancers and independent contractors make up over 1/3 of workers in America. (With the current economic rough patch that number is expected to grow and as the economy evolves to being even more service based independent workers will become even larger segments of the population.) Without freelancers 2/3 of the jobs created in New York City since 1975 wouldn’t exist. You annually put in hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy. Freelancers also devise new ways for old practices to get better and filling essential roles in our economy that are central to its success and ability to function. Without freelancers, the system would collapse. **You don’t want to mess with either. So you wouldn’t throw **a rock at a bees nest. Well, you mess with us at your own peril, too. Our strength is in our numbers. Over 116,000 of you have joined from every state in the union. We’ve already fought to provide health insurance to over 20,000 of you. This year we’ve repealed the UBT, and we’re working to make sure our voices are heard in the national healthcare debate. And we’re just getting started! Above all else, we realize that you face daily obstacles but are a hard working, talented, and unique individual. So today, we appreciate and honor your—and the bees’—contribution to the economy and Freelancers Union.