Weekly Feature

2018-06-07 / Editorials

Everyone is buzzing about honeybees

They are among nature’s most misunderstood creatures. They are honeybees. These flying insects get a bad rap, in part because of their cousins, the wasps and yellow jackets. But during Monday’s East Aurora Village Board meeting, board members and residents showed a visible interest in the hovering helper, as a permit was approved to allow an Olean Street resident to keep these peculiar pollinators in her backyard.

It seems there’s a new wave of people embracing the honeybees. An estimated 120,000 people across the country keep bees in their backyards. In the past several years, major cities such as Los Angeles and New York have lifted their bans on beekeeping, thus drawing more attention to the bright insect.

The movement comes at a critical time for bees, which experts say are responsible for an estimated $15 billion to $18 billion in additional crop pollination.

Unfortunately, in the last half-decade alone, 30 percent of the bee population has disappeared. Right here in New York, the loss of pollinators is hovering around 50 percent.

However, New York leaders are stepping up to the plate to help the honeybee. In 2015, a special Pollinator Task Force was developed with the goal of protecting the bees and their environment, as well as working on education programs to teach people more about bees. In June 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded seven grants totaling $6.8 million to universities across the country working to sustain healthy populations of pollinators.

Buffalo even introduced its Green Code last year, allowing city residents to keep hives in their yards. Even Knox Farm is getting in on the bee craze; it recently installed several beehives behind the greenhouse on the Buffalo Road property.

Even with all the hype about the bees, there are still some common misunderstandings about them. In September, Erin Masterson Holko of Masterson’s Garden Center explained that some people are still suspicious of the bee, and sometimes confuse honeybees with wasps and yellow jackets.

“Unless you’re bothering a hive, honeybees are not scary,” Holko said.

Even Mayor Peter Mercurio is pro-bees.

“I think the world needs more bees, and anything folks are going to do to help that is positive,” he said.

We couldn’t agree more.

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