Biodiversity is the BUZZ word at Reading Mill
If you haven't paid much attention to bees before, you may only see them as a nuisance during your summer barbecues. But keeping bees can offer many benefits, and that's exactly what our Paper Mill team is doing in Reading, PA.
Recently, Dave Warden, Regional Safety & Environmental Manager at Reading Mill, solicited the team there for biodiversity project ideas. Brandon Portner, an Electrical & Instrumentation Maintenance Technician at the mill, suggested beehives. A natural suggestion, given that Brandon is a beekeeper himself!
A long-term goal is to harvest the honey and give it away as samples to schools or food banks.
"We have a total of 6 hives now assembled, but unfortunately, one of them has lost its queen, so it will not grow. We are waiting for one of the other hives to mature a little, and then we will take one of these colonies and split it to seed the failed hive. I personally have no experience with beekeeping, so Brandon is most definitely our expert there," said Warden.
The hives are located under the awning of an old pole barn close to the bordering Schuylkill River. When each swarm has fully matured, and the hive expanded, each would hold approx. 40 – 50,000 bees. It's possible that the hives could host a total of approx. 250,000 – 300,000 bees in time! The hives will then be expanded as needed to allow for the growth of the increasing swarm.
Bees have cultural and environmental importance as pollinators and producers of honey and medicinal products. The movement of pollen between plants is necessary for plants to fertilize and reproduce. Both farmed and wild bees control the growth and quality of vegetation — when they thrive, so do crops.
A long-term goal is to harvest the honey and give it away as samples to schools or food banks. Before that can happen, the honey must meet any required food standards regulations if the bee team bottles it themselves. "You know how it is; no good deed goes unpunished!" added Warden.
Dave and Brandon will monitor how successful the hives are this year and will likely add more next year if they grow as expected.