Oh, honey! It doesn’t get fresher than this


By Susie Davidson

Special to The Advocate

State Bee Inspector Anita Deeley on the job.

It wouldn’t be New Year’s without honey, and it certainly would not be a sweet one.

On September 20, honey and its origins will be the succulent focus as kids and families are invited to celebrate the Jewish New Year at Temple Beth Shalom of Peabody.The event will be geared towards children ages 0-6,and their older siblings.

At “Sweet New Year Beekeeping & Havdalah,” sponsored by North Shore Jewish Families with Young Children, attendees will observe an actual hive and learn how to identify honeybees and spot the queen. Anita Deeley, a Biologist and Massachusetts State Bee Inspector who runs between 30-50 treatment-free hives in her apiary (a site where honeybee hives are kept), Beverly Bees, will also teach kids about the vital role that bees play as pollinators of both flowers and agriculture. On her website, she writes that she began as a backyard beekeeper four years ago, and yes, she has been stung over 180 times.

Of course, samples of Deeley’s raw local honey will be offered. Kids will also roll a fresh beeswax candle, and don beekeeping suits to conduct mock hive inspections. Afterwards, attendees will enjoy a festive, Kosher style dinner and havdalah ceremony (perhaps with a beeswax candle?). The event is free and open to the public. Temple membership is not required. “North Shore Jewish Families wanted to do something different and interesting for Rosh Hashanah,” said Lynne Krasker Schultz, Program Coordinator of North Shore Jewish Families with Young Children. “We wanted something hands on and engaging for our kids, and so we decided to explore the world of bees and honey making.”

Krasker Schultz heard raves about Deeley’s presentation and ability to engage children. “The kids will experience real bees and hives, in glass cases, put on real bee keeper suits, walk through a mock bee hive maze, and try local, fresh honey,” she said. “Along the way, they will learn all about bees, pollination, hives and honey.”

Deeley told the Advocate that kids are among her most rapt and eager students. “Kids always ask the best questions, have a wide-eyed fascination for bees, and enjoy learning everything about them,” she said, adding that they have a blast dressing up in beekeeping outfits pretending to be beekeepers. “Children today are the future caretakers for bees, so anything I can do to help them appreciate honey bees and their important role in the world is vital,” she said.

Adults are psyched as well. Naomi Helman Brown has an admittedly personal stake in attending. “I’m very excited about this event because I love honey,” she said, while explaining that it is also ideal for her kids, who love to observe her neighbor, who tends bees and makes honey for her baked goods business.

Food, fun, instruction and honey - what more could a kid want? Ýet, the sad reality is that this most delectable, toothsome and enriching indulgence may be in danger of survival.

Vanishing Bees,”an online Natural Resources Defense Council document, warns of the national disappearance of honey bees due to a phenomenon, first noticed in 2006, called Colony Collapse Disorder,where,quite simply,bees leave their hives and don’t come back. Causes include pesticides, fungicides, and viruses. Overdevelopment is another cause, as are gardeners who plant exotic plants that deprive pollinators of native food. National Geographic also cites the effects of “climate change, droughts, floods, and flowers blooming prematurely as the days grow warmer.”

NRDC calls for more research.“Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture has allotted $20 million over the next five years for research, that amount pales in comparison with the potential loss of $15 billion worth of crops that bees pollinate every year. And the USDA has so far failed to aggressively seek out a solution,” its website states.

Beverly Bees, whose home page slogan is “Saving Honey Bees One Colony At A Time,” is on the local forefront of this eco-crisis. “Our mission at Beverly Bees is to help increase the local honey bee population through our Host A Hive program, to promote awareness of the plight of the honey bee through Educational Talks to Schools and Community Groups, and to foster good stewardship and understanding of honey bees through our Adopt A Hive and Mentoring programs,” the site states. It also relocates wayward bee colonies with its Bee Removal Service.

North Shore Jewish Families with Young Children is a joint initiative betweenTemple Beth Shalom (Reform), Temple Ner Tamid (Conservative) and CJP. “We wanted to do something fun and different for Rosh Hashanah,” said Krasker Schultz. “Our goal is to engage families in Jewish culture and tradition with fun programs designed to teach our kids in unique ways,” she said, noting that they decided to partner this program with havdalah and add dinner so that families could get to know each other a bit more and make those connections.

And what connections could be better made than over a spoonful of honey? Deeley agrees, “There is nothing better than raw local honey, especially during Jewish New Year!”

Sweet New Year Beekeeping & Havdalah” will be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. atTemple Beth Shalom489 Lowell St. in Peabody. Walk-ins are welcome, but RSVPs are appreciated. Please email lynne@northshorejewishfamilies.com and visit https://www.facebook.com/ groups/NorthShoreJewishFamilies/.

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