Valley’s Paramus Rooftop Hive is a First for a NJ Hospital
The Valley Hospital’s Robert & Audrey Luckow Pavilion in Paramus just gained about 7,000 new employees, but they don’t take up much office space. In fact they all fit into two rooftop honeybee hives, and by mid-summer their ranks are expected to swell upwards to 60,000. And New Jersey’s official state insects seem quite at home in their new penthouse location.
The industrious honey bees will produce honey for use in dishes produced in the hospital’s kitchen and packaged for sale in the Kurth Cottage Gift Shop and Valley other locations.
The bees arrived at Valley’s Luckow Pavilion on May 14. Valley is the first hospital to have rooftop hives installed, as part of a growing trend in urban and suburban beekeeping. Other locations with rooftop hives include the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City and other hotels, supermarkets, and residences.
Beekeeping may sound like an odd endeavor for a hospital to become involved with but it is actually a natural extension of Valley’s other efforts to “go green” and support locally produced food. In 2010 Valley signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, which calls for hospitals to use more locally grown food, work with vendors to obtain products free of pesticides and hormones, purchase more organic foods, educate the community about nutritious and ‘’socially just” foods, minimize or reuse food waste, use ecologically protective food packaging and support humane agriculture systems. Initiatives to date conducted in support of the pledge include buying local produce from Catalpa Ridge farm in Sussex County, the hospital’s commitment to buying cage-free eggs, promoting “Meatless Monday” and a partnership with the community supported agriculture program offered by Hesperides Organica, a farm in Warwick, N.Y.
“We have always been big supporters of locally produced food and what could be more local that producing your own honey?” said Dawn Cascio, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Valley Dining. “We also like the idea of supporting the declining honey bee population while enhancing our community's gardens, foliage, and trees,”
In fact, Paramus’ newest residents will help pollinate a 2-mile radius around the Luckow Pavilion, increasing the yield of flowers, fruits and vegetables over an 8,700-acre area.
Concerned about their sting? Not to worry. “Honeybees are very docile and rarely sting except by accident or in defense of a beehive, because use of its stinger is lethal to a honeybee,” said Eric Hanan, Co-Founder of Bee Bold Apiaries, which supplied and will maintain the honeybee
hives for Valley. “Honeybees are not aggressive and are not interested in us or our backyard barbecues or drinks.”
“The New Jersey Department of Agriculture promotes and encourages urban bee keeping,” Cascio said. “We want to do all we can to be as "green" as possible to the environment.”
Shown with the honeybee hives atop The Valley Hospital’s Luckow Pavilion in Paramus are (left to right) John Graziano, Executive Chef, Valley Dining; Dawn Cascio, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Valley Dining; Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera; and Joseph G. Lelinho, Co-Founder, Bee Bold Apiaries.