HACKENSACK, NJ — A fast-developing downtown won’t be the only thing buzzing in the City of Hackensack this spring. There may be a lot more actual bees. City Manager Ted M. Ehrenburg said he will prepare a sample resolution for the governing body’s review at the city’s next council meeting next Tuesday, January 28 to get Hackensack on track towards becoming a certified Bee City USA affiliate.
Bee City USA is a growing movement which includes 102 cities around the nation which works to foster ongoing discussions to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in communities and what civilians can do to provide them with a flourishing habitat.
In the resolution, the Bee City USA program endorses commitments for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators. According to Bee City USA’s official website, pollinators are vital in the production of more than 150 food crops in the country including antioxidant fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, oranges, squash and tomatoes and heart-healthy almonds. One in three bites of food consumed is courtesy of insect pollination and roughly 90% of the world’s flowering plants need pollinators to reproduce.
Hackensack officials are seeking to become the second municipality in northern New Jersey to be designated a “Bee City,” after the Village of Ridgewood, and join over 100 other US cities from San Francisco, California to Washington, D.C. who are.
Sheris Tosuni, the advisor of the Beekeeper’s Club at Hackensack High School, first approached the council along with two student club members, at the city’s January 14 meeting.
“We want to emphasis the importance of pollinators and why the city of Hackensack should become a Bee City,” said Tosuni. “This is important to me and the families of the communities of Hackensack. This is important to the kids whose future we’re trying to protect.”
His students agreed.
“Every day our environment changes really quickly,” said a member of the Beekeeper’s Club to the mayor and council. “There’s a lot of beautiful things in nature and we have to preserve it as long as we can so the future generations can see and learn about it.”
“Bees are one of the best pollinators in the world,” said another student to the governing body. “It’s very important to have them around, and they’re actually becoming extinct because of humans. So if we can even make a little dent in helping the world and our community to have more pollinators, we can make big change.”
ABC News reported this past summer the disappearance of bee colonies since the mid-2000s. Loss of a sustainable habitat for bees and exposure to pesticides are some of the main reasons for their decline.
Tosuni said the resolution will include reducing the use of certain pesticides that are harmful to pollinators.
“The idea is to build habitats with mostly native species, provide abundant pollinator food sources, use pesticides and sources plants from nurseries that do not treat seeds with Neonicotinoids, which penetrate the entire plant and remain active for a year in the woody plants,” he said. “Bees have a hard time dealing with this. Becoming a Bee City sends a message to the city of Hackensack that you care about the quality of life in the city.”
The idea was well received by the council whose consensus was that bees are a “huge part” of the environment.
Since the initiative includes improving local plant nursery markets by increasing demand for pollinator friendly plants, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino said they could make better use of community garden and partner with the city’s public schools to spread awareness.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Mayor John Lacrosse. “I have two coworkers who are beekeepers. We had beehives at the hospital which produced a considerable amount of honey. I think it’s a great educational opportunity for the kids. A city beehive down by the garden would be great to allow beekeepers throughout the city in their backyards to have bees.”
For more about Bee City USA, go to Beecityusa.org.