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The Water Work Bees of Highland Park

March 27, 2012

Bees and Larkspur Detail from 19th Century Rochester Nursery Plate Book. Click to see Full Plate.

Over the last few years,  the  Highland Park Neighborhood Association has held an annual exhibit at Highland Park’s Lower Reservoir Gatehouse where we have been guests of the City of Rochester Bureau of Water crew (which was once known as “Rochester Water Works”.)   As such we have come to respect the tens of thousands of other residents of this historic structure….an active and healthy hive of Honey Bees who live in the Northern Wall of the structure.  The timing of our exhibit has often coincided with the time of year that these Bees Swarm  . The photo album and movie below were taken during a few very active days where a portion of these bees made several attempts to swarm to another location.

We were impressed on how protective the Bureau of Water staff is of this colony.   They recognize the benefits these insects bring to the park around them:

The Bees of Highland Park's Water Works

The Bees of Highland Park's Water Works

  • Honeybees account for 80% of all insect pollination
  • USDA estimates that as much 25% of our diet is derived from plants pollinated by Honey Bees
  • Bee pollination yearly creates $15 billion in added crop value
  • Honeybees are comparatively docile…unlike more aggressive insects such as Yellow Jacket Hornets, these bee sting only when provoked.
  • Protection of Existing Honey Bee Colonies is very important, especially because of the ongoing nation-wide die-back of bees referred to as “Colony Collapse Disorder

Not everyone we meet during festival time understands why this hive of honey bees is special. One of the scariest moments during our time at the gatehouse came when a County Exterminator arrived because of a phoned-in complaint that bees were out of control.  But we were able to convince the Exterminator that these bees were not a threat to the public.  We have since created a sign to inform park visitors that the bees  are “Happy & Healthy”.
If you encounter the Water Work Bees on a stroll through the park, take time to admire them.  And join us in asking friends and family to be respectful of our colony in the park as well.

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Wikipedia Article on Honeybees

Honeybee Facts from Back Yard Beekeepers Association

USDA Questions  and Answers: Colony Collapse Disorder

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