What Would We Do Without the Bees?

Jan 16, 2009

Dianne DiBlasi is frustrated.


She’s the advisor of Team B.E.E.S. (Bergen Environmental Effort to Save Bees), a group of six high school students in Allendale, N.J. involved in a honey bee  project.


Two years ago the students conducted research and interviewed locals to find a community-based environmental project. They decided on bees. They learned about bees and beekeeping, and  purchased their supplies.


Today, they're heavily involved in educating the public about bees: how vital bees are and the issues they face. The youths gave a presentation at the Bronx Zoo's "Teens for Planet Earth" summit, where they won the gold award for service-based learning. Then last month,  PBS traveled to Allendale  to cover the team's activities. The TV show, "GreenQuest," will premiere in February.

Now for the frustration.

Bees are
"prohibited animals" in the Borough of Allendale.


“We were fortunate (two years ago) to find a beekeeper in the next town over who graciously let us put our hive on his property,” DiBlasi said.


They petitioned the council to change the ordinance. The council declined.


Now they’ll be addressing council again on Feb. 2--this time with the support of Tim Schuler, New Jersey’s state apiarist, and the support of a councilwoman.


DiBlasi said some of the city council members think the bee project is a potential liability.


“It seems there is more concern over a neighbor getting stung than taking a huge green step forward,” she said.


 "On Feb. 2 we will address the council at 7:30 p.m. asking them to 1) remove bees from the list of Prohibited Animals, and 2) approve guidelines for beekeeping that we have drawn up. I invite people to write letters to Mayor Vince Barra stating how important it is for Allendale to take this important step forward." DiBlasi is asking honey bee supporters to send letters to:

Allendale Borough Hall
500 West Crescent Ave
Allendale   NJ   07401


Ironically, we received an email today listing "24 Things About to Become Extinct in America." The list includes yellow pages, classified ads, movie rental stores, dial-up internet access, phone landlines, Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, VCRs, ash trees, ham radio, the swimming hole, answering machines, camers that use film, incandescent bulbs, stand-alone bowling alleys, the milkman, handwritten letters, wild horses, personal checks, drive-in theaters, mumps and measles, news magazines and TV news,  analog TV and the family farm.

And guess what? Honey bees.

Honey bees? Right. In fact, honey bees are No. 4 on the list "to become extinct."


The author (unknown) of the piece had this to say: 

Perhaps nothing on our list of disappearing
America is so dire; plummeting so enormously; and so necessary to the survival of our  food supply as the honey bee. Very scary. 'Colony Collapse Disorder' or CCD, has spread throughout the U.S. and Europe over the past few years, wiping out 50% to 90% of the colonies of many beekeepers -- and along with it, their livelihood.


The members of Team B.E.E.S. are doing the right thing. They should be applauded for their commitment and dedication. They're learning about bees, educating the public, and offering a "green element" back to the community.  


You go, Team B.E. E.S.! You go!

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

TEAM B.E.E.S.--These high school students from Allendale, N.J., are learning to be beekeepers and are educating the public about the importance of bees. From left are Camila Robbins, Bryan DiBlasi, Malith Waharaka, Colin Bassett, and Manny Gonzalez. However, Allendale prohibits backyard beekeeping. They're lobbying to change the ordinance.

Team B.E.E.S.

FLIGHT OF THE HONEY BEE--A pollen-packing honey bee buzzes through salvia (sage). In some cities, beekeeping is prohibited.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Flight of the Honey Bee