Posted by Jamie
Written by Mark Hubbard, Executive Chef at Highmark Senate Plaza
There’s a buzz coming from more and more backyards in Pennsylvania, and it’s not the drone of lawnmowers or the humming of cicadas. Its bees — up to 90,000 of them in a single hive — and your neighbors might just be keeping them.
Bee keeping, or apiculture, is not only a hobby among those who are looking for healthier plants, fruits and vegetables; it’s an essential part of our local produce sustainability.
“We certainly have seen some benefits of the pollination,” says Charles Fonistock of Annville, PA. “The fruit trees on our property have thrived in the last three years, due to a larger number of bees. We have a rather large, fresh produce counter at a local market and have noticed how much larger and better looking the vegetables are with a larger bee population. We hear from our neighbors, ‘Oh, I got apples this year and I haven’t had apples in so long.’ The neighbors have appreciated seeing the bees around.”
Many local orchards, including Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. of Adams County, raise honey bees for pollination of their fruit trees and vegetables. “The honey bee is essentially the stork of the plant world” says Miss Ellie Hollabaugh. “Many plants have male and female flowers, but need an outside agent to transport po
llen from the male to the female flower to produce fruit. The honey bee is this conduit. We also use bumble bees that pollinate things like blueberries and other berry plants.”
“We also plant large native plots of wild flowers to keep our native bees that we don’t keep in hives on the property; these bees are an essential part of reproduction. We sell our fruits, vegetables and fresh honey. Without the honey bee and the bumble bee we would have none of those.”
Our Google team also has implemented bee hives on its roof to help with the pollination of their herbs and roof top vegetable gardens. Lee Keener (Executive Chef, Parkhurst Dining) also uses all of the honey they harvest from the hives for his Google guests.