The Giant Co. Corporate Headquarters along the Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township was buzzing with excitement Monday morning.
It was there that the company unveiled two new beehives in honor of National Pollinators Week, which runs from Monday through Sunday and addresses the decline in pollinator populations.
Giant initially installed three hives containing about 60,000 bees in June 2020 as part of its pollinator-friendly solar field. These were stolen in late January.
“We actually learned that this is an issue that’s facing many beekeepers around the country,” said Nicholas Bertram, Giant Co. president. “Bees are being stolen, and it’s happening right here in our own community in Cumberland County and certainly inside the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The two new hives contain an estimated 30,000 bees, according to Giant’s Community Impact Manager Jessica Groves. She said the company intends to grow the bee population to nine hives that will house around 450,000 bees by next summer.
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“Our bees will live behind a fence and they are also under surveillance now, which is something that we didn’t do before because we didn’t know that bee theft was a thing,” Groves said. “So we learned and now our bees will be protected from here on out.”
She said not every beekeeper has the ability to protect bees the same way.
At Monday’s event, Giant partnered with Planet Bee Foundation to award five grants totaling $10,000 to beekeepers in central Pennsylvania for the purpose of replacing bee colonies, rebuilding hives and continuing research. Groves said this will help beekeepers get back on their feet after experiencing losses due to factors like bear attacks and winter seasons. She believes it’s taking Giant’s experience and “turning it into something positive.”
“This grant will allow me to enhance bee breeding efforts, which ultimately enable better survival rates and provide strong queens to other local beekeepers in the Midstate,” local beekeeper John Patterson said. “The grant money will also help fund some of the equipment needed to maintain the existing beehives and splits as the colony continues to grow. Lastly, the funding will help with late season feeding of sugar syrups to build up the storage for the honeybees to feed on over the winter.”
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding spoke at the event and emphasized the importance of pollinators like bees.
“One out of every three bites of food we eat is thanks to pollinators, including bees, and their role in promoting biodiversity and plant health within our greater food system,” Redding said. “The Department of Agriculture is honored to kick off National Pollinator Week with our partners at the Giant Co. Initiatives like these are advancing community and sustainability for generations to come.”
The event also included the opportunity for attendees to shop a variety of bee-themed products, including flowers, wine, ice-cream and, of course, honey.