When an Elsii Faria bought an old church 20 years ago, she couldn’t have imagined how the property in Orono, Ont., would one day soothe their souls and refocus their careers.

When we moved into a church in 2000, we couldn’t have guessed the impact it would have on our lives. As an artist, I was looking for a unique, open space to create my work. Kevin Craddock was a signed musician who loved the idea of living in a church and moved in as a roommate. Back then, many creatures inhabited the church with us, including thousands of honeybees living between the walls — we even had a crack in the wall leaking honey. Back in 2000, no one was discussing the importance of bees. I was encouraged to fumigate but decided to let them be.

In 2002, Kevin and I became partners. A year later, I suffered a breakdown due to a toxic corporate environment. While I struggled with a life-changing illness, we grew a profitable marketing and design business, got married and had a baby. Six years later, we were looking to expand our business and purchased the house next door. On my journey through healing, I had become aware of significant resources and wanted to share them with others. Affected by the recession, we also wanted to diversify our income sources and worked toward making the house and church into a retreat centre.

The bee colony living between the walls of the church.

After renovations and an acute health condition, we opened as AYUS Awareness Centre in 2013. We held workshops, retreats and events with various practitioners from all over the world, including a Peruvian shaman, a Mayan spiritual guide and a Canadian Indigenous leader. The following year, we opened the house as a bed and breakfast, then re-branded our business as The Hive Centre and Bee & Bee, thanks to the wise counsel of friends.

Today, The Hive is comprised of two buildings — a heritage church, The Hive Centre and a retro executive home, The Hive Bee & Bee. Both buildings are nestled on an 18-acre nature reserve in Clarington. We offer individual rooms and full-house bookings, as well as programming related to community, well-being, nature, creativity and Indigenous teachings.

“We provide a safe and inclusive space where people can connect with themselves and each other.”

It’s been seven years since we opened our doors to the public. We’ve learned many lessons and have honed our offerings to the activities we feel help people most. We provide a safe and inclusive space where people can connect with themselves and each other. Our signature activities include Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing), frequency meditation, wild food walks and tastings, earthing, creative nature workshops, Indigenous wisdom and fireside ceremonies. We create custom retreats for groups and can augment private retreats with The Hive programming.

We are very connected to our local community and work with several local businesses including Copper Branch and 21 Desserts for vegan meals and dessert, and Dare 2 Dream Farm for honey. We also host people who are visiting local attractions (especially Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) and direct guests to activities and eateries in the region. We feel blessed to live in the Durham Region because of the support that we receive from our community and for the natural environment that surrounds us.

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