August 12, 2020 •
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The TBA  Hives are Up and Running!

Deep in the woods of Temple B’nai Abraham’s sprawling property, a small humming sound can be heard.  A pair of three and a half-foot tall beehives sit there, filled with honey-coated frames and happy bees, the result of an idea by Rabbi Emeritus Clifford Kulwin and the efforts of TBA member Casey Dutch, who made the hives the focus of his Eagle Scout project.

Five acres of undeveloped, largely inaccessible land lie behind the Temple.  Rabbi Kulwin had long wondered if it could be used to benefit the local ecosystem.  Last fall, he invited two environmental consultants to walk the property with him and several Temple members and explore the question.

Several suggestions came out of that encounter, including deer fencing, the removal of invasive, nonnative plants, and helping native plants re-establish themselves.  These will likely be part of a future effort.  But the clearly best first step?  Bring in the honeybees!

While the reasons are not clearly known, world bee population has decreased precipitously over the last decade.  The US Department of Agriculture tracks bee colonies in the United States and the number continues to fall each year.  As pollinators, bees play an essential role in agriculture, and the loss of bees erodes the quality and quantity of crop harvests.

Rabbi Kulwin recalled that “we learned one of the greatest challenges even to our local micro-environment is the decline in pollinators. This has a ruinous effect on the health and number of native plants, which in turn weakens the health and diminishes the number of native wildlife.   We’ve done something truly good for the environment in one of the most fundamental ways possible. And we’ve also done something good for those with a sweet tooth.  In just two months the hives have yielded over 30 pounds of honey!”

He added, “The hives pose no danger.  They are located far from the building, in an area where no one goes. During a typical workday, bees forage in a two mile radius from the hive, a coverage area of nearly 10,000 acres.  They will not be congregating by the congregation!“

TBA’s Senior Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg said, “new Temple members will be given a jar of honey as a welcome gift, as will every boy or girl who becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to make jars of “T’B’A Honey” a regular benefit for all our members!”

Some interesting facts about honey bees:
Bees are the most important pollinator of food crops, which means a lot of what we consume each day relies on their tireless work. Here are some fun facts about bees:

  • By herself, one honeybee makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her entire life, but together a hive can generate over 80 pounds of honey in just a matter of months.
  • The queen bee can live up to five years and her role is to fill the hive with eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength; she lays up to 2500 eggs per day.
  • 16 ounces of honey require 1,152 bees to travel 112,000 miles and visit 4.5 million flowers.
  • If honeybees were paid minimum wage for their work, a jar of honey would cost us $182,000.
  • Honeybees contribute $8 to $10 billion to the U.S. economy yearly.
  • Honeybees can fly up to 15 miles per hour.
  • The practice of honey collection and beekeeping dates back to the Stone Age, as evidenced by cave paintings.

photos courtesy Will Banker

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