As Sweet as it GetsDerek Eisel started as Director of Sales this week. Last Friday he came in to the office to celebrate with us. He brought honey, blue cheese and crackers. But not just any honey – he’s a beekeeper. So he brought in a whole frame of honey. We sat together late Friday afternoon and scraped honey out of the frame, slathered it on the cheese on crackers and washed it down with some great beer from the Fremont Brewing Company next door.

As the party split up, Derek suggested I take the honey frame home. So I stuffed it in my bike bag, brought it home and plopped it on the counter, proudly, like I had discovered some exotic treasure. My boys loved it. They hovered over it, spooning honey straight into their mouths for much of the evening.

In the days since, I’ve been finding myself hovering over it, patiently scraping off the beeswax, pouring the honey out of the honeycomb and collecting it in a jar.  It fascinates me. Suddenly, I get why three people in my close circle, including Derek, have recently turned to beekeeping with a passion.

According to The Guardian, the global honeybee population is collapsing. This collapse is a major threat to food crops. I’m no apiologist but I would guess that the proliferation of local beekeeping could help avert that collapse. It’s likely increasing the diversity of the bee gene pool and limiting the spread of disease. It’s turning honey into a local crop, nurturing local communities and reducing trucking.  It deepens our connection with our food and with nature.

I think of these things because Scope5 helps companies measure this type of connection by tracking data that they haven’t tracked before, such as the costs and CO2 of shipping the honey from one location to another, or the electricity required to light and heat the grocery store where the honey is sold. We’re hoping to see some fruitful cross-pollination between local small-scale beekeeping efforts and the larger scale companies now tracking their environmental data and costs.

But back to the honey. There’s something much bigger than beekeeping going on here. This is the decentralization of food. We see this not just in the beekeeping. We see it in the growing number of urban chicken coops, microbreweries, urban rooftop gardens and the increasing popularity of farmer’s markets…

Where will decentralization take us?

I think this is just the beginning. In beekeeping, we might be seeing hints of the world we’re headed towards – the independence to produce our own stuff, locally, imbued with our own essence, to share it with our neighbors and colleagues on those late Friday afternoons…

How sweet is that?