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We’re All Bees-ness at the Farm

June 2021

Tristan Wallack, our Senior Director of Programming and Operations, shares an update from our Pittstown farm.

If you have been following our social media, you may have noticed some posts about the re-introduction of honeybees onto our farm. Through generous funding from Wakefern Food Corp. (the cooperative behind ShopRite) and General Mills and through volunteer support from local beekeepers John Knoble, Gina Stewart, Todd Koperstynski and Bob Kloss, we have been able to install both a bee apiary and a pollinator field. Local scouts in Troop 65, Troop 186, Troop 186G, and Troop 194 also provided support by building some of the bee boxes.

The planning for this project began last September, and as a result of everyone’s hard work we were able to install 10 new hives in April, in time for the bees to pollinate our apple trees. The drones and the queens came to our farm all the way from Savannah, Georgia. While each hive is starting off with 10,000 bees, they will grow dramatically over the summer as each queen will lay up to 3,000 eggs per day. By the end of the season there will be 20 hives and likely over 1 million bees on the property! Through the bees’ work, we expect to double our apple yields on the farm and harvest approximately 150,000 pounds of apples this season! 

I have learned a lot about bees over these past few months. Here are a few interesting facts:

  • Did you know that a bee has to hit a flower on the apple tree 5 times before that flower is pollinated and will grow an apple?
  • Honeybees in the summer will live only about 5-6 weeks because of all of the hard work they do foraging food. Conversely the bees that are in the hive during the winter live about 6 months.
  • Did you know that in the winter the bees cluster together (similar to penguins in the Antarctic) to stay warm and keep an average temperature of 81 degrees?
  • Bees have to gather pollen from roughly 2 million flowers to produce 1 pound of honey!

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