Public Works fights hunger, grows bee population

Over 100 pounds of raw honey donated to local food pantry

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The Public Works Center directed a sweet donation of about 120 pounds of raw honey to the local food pantry, Beyond Hunger, on Sept. 13. The honey came from the center's two rooftop beehives. 

According to Forestry Superintendent Robert Sproule, the center donated its entire harvest to the pantry. One 6-ounce jar was given to each of 175 participating households. This is the second year the pantry received a honey donation from the center. Sproule estimates the retail value of this year's donation to be around $1,500, not including jar costs. 

"Our clients were so delighted to receive that item," said Teri Miller, Beyond Hunger's development director. "Honey is a really expensive luxury item and if you are living on a really small income, you're not going to spend $4 on honey when you can buy almost a pound of ground beef for $4."  

Beyond Hunger's registered dieticians explained to the recipients that the honey came from local bees and was gifted by the Public Works Center. The dieticians also described the nutritional benefits of honey and how to use it as a sugar substitute.

"You can imagine how happy they were to receive such a gift," said Miller. 

The amount of honey the center's bees produced this year exceeded the 120-pound donation, but the center only harvests a portion. "We left more than we took out of all the hives to make sure that they have enough stores," said Sproule. During winter, bees subsist on the honey produced from the past summer.

 "This is the fourth season of having hives," said Sproule. The village set up the hives to propagate the rapidly declining honeybee population. Honeybees pollinate more plants than any other insect or bee, making them an integral part of the ecosystem. Village Hall also has two rooftop beehives, established a couple of years after the two at the center.   

 Public Works uses The Hive, a Chicago-based beekeeping supply store, to extract and bottle the honey. The Hive also maintains the center's apiary, ensuring the busy bees stay buzzing. 

Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 8th, 2019 7:52 AM

How much per hour are Public works employees paid? How many hours are they busy in the make and bottle honey business? Are these bottles of honey costing the town $30 each to make, when you can buy honey at the grocery store for $8 ? If they are becoming a publicly funded farm, maybe they could grow the most expensive corn in the world up on that roof. Or have a few cows running around. Is that really the efficient way to end hunger?

Stephanie WP  

Posted: October 6th, 2019 7:04 PM

It's great that OP is donating to Beyond Hunger. To address a couple of facts, honeybees are not essential to our ecosystem, just like chickens are not essential to our ecosystem. Scientists find honeybees to have a negative impact on native pollinators, of which IL has hundreds. Scientists also find that urban areas are important refuges for native pollinators. Further, Honeybees spread disease and compete for limited floral resources. Each hive should be provided an acre of flowers. Honeybees are also not the best pollinators; native bees are, again, a science-based fact. Honeybees are handy for industrial agriculture because they can be moved around in hives to pollinate when the plants are in flower whereas native pollinators can't be moved around in such a manner. I think if OP is concerned about ecosystems,, there are many other things it could be doing. It should also be providing enough floral resources for its own hives so as not to negatively impact other pollinators.

Dave Hunter from Woodinville  

Posted: October 2nd, 2019 7:17 PM

Honey bees are one of the most inefficient pollinators due to how they carry their pollen sticky on hind legs. Native bees, such as mason or leafcutter bees spread pollen due to their carrying pollen dry on hairy bodies with pollen falling off with each flower visit. There may be more honey bees due to our reliance on this bee, but they are not the best pollinators.

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