As seen in the Hudson Star-Observer, May 7, 2015:
[Hudson, W] Honey bees are nature’s pollinator – and they make everything in nature come full circle. So in April, Hudson Hospital added two honey bee colonies in their Community Gardens. Bees offer an essential ingredient for healthy gardens, both flora and vegetable. In fact, about 30 percent of our diet is the direct result of bee pollination to a flowering fruit tree or vegetable plant.
The hospital’s commitment to sustainability includes a continual focus on enhancing the gardens. Hudson Hospital is a leader in the area of sustainability for the community and has been recognized over the last few years with a number of national environmental awards. The hospital’s environmentally-friendly journey includes discovering new ways to become more sustainable such as eliminating Styrofoam, and implementing policies and systems to reduce, reuse and recycle waste throughout the hospital; and providing fresh locally grown produce and meats to patients, staff and visitors. The beehives are significant green initiatives – and here’s why… recent research has found a dramatic decline in bee populations. This is due to many factors: pesticides, more flowerless and fewer natural landscapes, and the spread of parasites and diseases. By providing these safe havens for bees, Hudson Hospital is collaborating with nature and playing a small but vital role in reversing the dramatic pollinator declines that have occurred over the past few years.
Caring for the bees
With over 16-years’ experience, the bees are managed by beekeepers Fred and Jenny Hauser of Hauser Appararies. Jenny is a hospital employee - usually the first person to greet patients and visitors at the front Information Desk. The Hauser’s pick up the bees which are shipped in crates from California and placed into the hive the day they arrive. They take great care of the bees by providing for their basic needs: nutrition, water, safety, and a home of their own. A solar fence was installed for safety and keep animals away. As bees need water, a bird bath was placed near the hives. The hives will start building out comb after three weeks and the bees provide continual pollinations through spring and summer. This year, the hives will likely only have enough honey to sustain the bees for the upcoming winter. Next year the honey bees won’t have to expend all of their energy building the comb and be able to fill them with honey.
Extracting the honey
Cleanliness is important, so all equipment is scrubbed and cleaned before processing. Beeswax is cut off and put into a screen and laid out for other bees to eat the honey leaving a raw wax behind. The frames are put into the extractor to extract the honey. The honey is strained into a 5 gallon bucket, covered tightly with a lid and sits for 24 hours to clarify and get any bubbles out. The honey is checked with a refractor that makes sure there is not too much water content. If the honey is within 21.9% moisture content, it is ready for harvest. Extraction occurs twice/year and yields approximately 100 gallons of raw honey
Honey bee basics
Honey bees are social insects and will leave you alone with if you aren’t interfering with their work. Social bees live in a colony; a queen lays eggs, and a number of workers look after them. After mating, the female lays eggs in individual cells inside the nest she provides for them herself. Every year new bees are brought in. They always return to the same hive. The scout bees and guard bees leave a pheromone to locate their way back to their hive. Each hive has 3,000 bees; one queen, and females do all the work. The beehive or homes is also a place for bees to hide from predators, parasites and chemical insecticides used by others.
• Honey bee life span is one year
• 50,000 – 60,000 bees live in a colony
• It takes 10,000 bees to gather 1lb of honey
• Fly 15 miles per hour
• Visit 50-100 flowers during 1 collection trip
• A hive of bees flies 55,000 miles to bring 1lb of honey
• Honey bees are responsible for pollinating 80%of fruits, vegetables and seed crops in the US
• They are the only insect to produce food for Humans
• Honey bees generally don’t want to sting people – as they die after losing their stinger
Besides free pollinating service, bees add a sedating hum and vibrant color that livens up the garden; making it more attractive and inviting. There are about 5,000 different bee species in the U.S.; 2,000 in Canada; and 20,000 species recognized worldwide.
For more information about the Community Gardens, visit www.hudsonhospital.org.