Beekeepers of North Lawndale

  • Dates
    2017 - 2017
  • Author
  • Topics Documentary, Nature & Environment, Social Issues
  • Location Chicago, United States

A story about local apiary from Chicago helping people in its neighbourhood after their release from prison.

Beekeepers of North Lawndale is a short-term personal project I shot in Chicago, collaborating with North Lawndale Employment Network. It is an organization that assists individuals returning from incarceration by providing transitional jobs in beekeeping.

Operating within an urban setting, their apiaries extend to unconventional locations, such as O'Hare Airport. With high unemployment rates and a lack of public funding, North Lawndale stands as one of Chicago's most economically disadvantaged areas, and the founder of NLEN, Brenda Palms Barber, is committed to narrowing racial wealth and income gaps by creating opportunities for local residents.  

I have spent a week with the beekeepers, photographing them at work, and have also documented the area of North Lawndale and its residents, capturing the essence of the neighbourhood.  I shot this story as I was interested in exploring the complex relationship between bees and humans, and different ways in which nature affects our lives. 

© Tori Ferenc - Germaine with a bee smoker.

Germaine with a bee smoker.

© Tori Ferenc - A jar with sugar water for the bees.

A jar with sugar water for the bees.

© Tori Ferenc - Saving a lost bee.

Saving a lost bee.

© Tori Ferenc - House of Prayer.

House of Prayer.

© Tori Ferenc - The apiary.

The apiary.

© Tori Ferenc - Tangee.


© Tori Ferenc - Shoes hanging on the wire, North Lawndale.

Shoes hanging on the wire, North Lawndale.

© Tori Ferenc - Patricia.


© Tori Ferenc - Abandoned house, North Lawndale.

Abandoned house, North Lawndale.

© Tori Ferenc - Beehives.


© Tori Ferenc - Ishmeal, North Lawndale.

Ishmeal, North Lawndale.

© Tori Ferenc - Abandoned church, North Lawndale.

Abandoned church, North Lawndale.

© Tori Ferenc - Cathedral of Bees.

Cathedral of Bees.

© Tori Ferenc - The queen bee.

The queen bee.

© Tori Ferenc - Germaine at work.

Germaine at work.

© Tori Ferenc - O'Hare Airport Apiary.

O'Hare Airport Apiary.

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