Fierce

At 36 She Made A Career Move, Now Afro-Boricua Nicole Rivera Hartery Is Changing The Face Of Beekeeping

Beekeeping isn’t a popular career choice. Most people, if they’re being honest, aren’t quite sure what the post even entails. But they do have an idea of what an apiarist looks like: Typically, they’re a middle-aged white man in an all-white, ventilated suit. In Philadelphia, Nicole Rivera Hartery, a Black Puerto Rican beekeeper, is shattering this stereotype – and through education and representation, she’s hoping to help change the face of the industry.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Rivera Hartery spent much of her workdays in school classrooms, teaching little ones about the science of apiary and why caring for bees is critical to our environment. While sparking children’s interest in her vocation, her talks also aim to show youth of color, in particular, that they have a place and history in this field as well. 


Nicole Rivera Hartery

“Dealing with kids, beekeeping is brand new to them. They’re not questioning that it’s an Afro-Latina doing this or that it’s a girl. Those questions come from older people who already have an idea about what a typical beekeeper is and looks like. So, for me, this helps normalize beekeeping in our community. It shows them that they, their moms or their sisters could be doing this job,” Rivera Hartery, 38, tells FIERCE.

The invisibility of beekeepers of color is, in part, why the mother-of-two entered the field in her mid-30s. Growing up, Rivera Hartery was always fascinated by animals and insects. She remembers devouring children’s zoology magazines, playing with critters outdoors and envisioning a career in marine biology. By the time high school graduation came around, her interests had shifted, and she instead studied fashion. Realizing afterwards that she lacked the passion for personal wardrobe styling needed to drive her hustle in the competitive business, she eventually entered the mortgage industry. But more than a decade into Rivera Hartery’s career, she realized this gig didn’t invigorate her life, either. In fact, the only jobs that filled her with fervor were those she dreamed about as a child, those involving living creatures.

During a visit to a Philadelphia museum, Rivera Hartery entered an observatory honey bee hive and was captivated by what she saw and heard.

Nicole Rivera Hartery

In the days that followed, she watched documentaries and read literature about the buzzy insects. She realized this was something she was passionate about and soon enrolled in a beekeeping course at Rutgers University.

At 36, she left her former job and became a beekeeper.

“I was just blown away by everything I was learning, by how democratic they are in their own societies,” Rivera Hartery says.

Beekeeping is a laborious job. Throughout the week, Rivera Hartery cares for two hives on her roof and another at a local animal hospital. In addition to providing honey bees with hives, she has to regularly inspect them, going box by box and frame by frame to make sure the bees have no health problems, treat them if they do and to ensure that the queen is laying enough eggs and that there is adequate space for the colonies. When hives carry too much honey, for instance, the bees lack room to move around and risk swarming. To avoid this, Rivera Hartery removes excess honey and sells it through her shop Bees on Main St.

Helping bees take care of themselves is an increasingly important job. According to the United Nations, pollinators, like bees, are under growing threat as a result of climate change and human impact. The loss of bees is dangerous for our environment. These insects pollinate a third of the food that people eat, including many nuts, fruits and vegetables. Even more, as pollinators, bees support the growth of trees, flowers and other plants, which contributes to interconnected ecosystems that enable different species to coexist.

According to Rivera Hartery, humans can learn a lot from the social insects.

Bees live in large colonies that include a single adult queen bee, who lays eggs, and tens of thousands of female worker bees. Male honey bees, known as drones, appear during the spring mating season. In the two years she has been a beekeeper, the Afro-Latina has gained insight from the critters – who understand they are healthier when they work together – about belonging, democracy and feminism. 

“It’s created more of a feminist in me. You see all these worker bees are women. Male bees are important; don’t get me wrong, they are crucial to mate with queens and continue life. But the functioning of the colonies is all due to women. Women are the warriors,” Rivera Hartery says. “Among the human race, this is true, too. We run our homes and we have careers, yet we have been taught that we are weaker. I don’t know where this idea came from, but, if you look at nature, it’s clear that it’s women who run things.”

Beekeeping has been rewarding to Rivera Hartery in more intimate ways as well. While women of color are underrepresented in the field, she has found other Black, Latina and Asian women in apiary through social media and has built new friendships based on shared passions and struggles. Even more, when life gets difficult, the beekeeper finds that caring for honey bees offers her a peace of mind she doesn’t necessarily gain through traditional wellness practices. She trusts it’s because she is doing work she’s supposed to be doing, one that doesn’t just bring her joy but that is also rooted in her ancestral history.

“Boricuas, Black people and people of Indigenous descent, this is our history. Our families lived off the land. Our grandparents and great-grandparents, many generations ago, did this on the island. We bond with the land and we bond with nature, so our perspectives are extremely important to agriculture and science,” Rivera Hartery says.

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Things That Matter

UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Culture

Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Henry Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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