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Mountain Community Homes staff established two honey bee colonies in the Rhicard Hills community last summer in an effort to support the pollinator population at Fort Drum. They recently reported that the new bee habitats successfully survived the winter and that the bees are thriving this spring. (Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes photos)

Tiniest residents buzzing with enthusiasm 
at Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 11, 2022) – Hundreds of new residents were welcomed into the Rhicard Hills community at Fort Drum last year, but their presence may have gone unnoticed to most people.

To be fair, they tend to “bee-have” themselves and are quite busy most of the time. They also are considered to be some of the most “essential workers” on the planet.

If you haven’t guessed it, we’re talking about the humble honey bee.

The Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes staff established two honey bee colonies last summer near the Rhicard Hills community garden. Dean Harrison, Mountain Community Homes project director, was happy to report at the recent Community Information Exchange that the bees survived their first winter and are thriving once again.

“Winter survival for honey bee colonies in northern New York is a challenge, especially for new colonies,” he said. “I’ve seen reports that as many as 40 to 50 percent of New York’s honey bee colonies were lost this winter. We were concerned our tiniest Mountain Community Homes residents might not make it.”

Harrison said that staff inspected the colonies in January and conducted a temperature check with an infrared heat sensor. The readings were good then, and a recent visit showed healthy heat temperatures in both colonies.

“When we lifted the lids, we found the hives loaded with honey bees, shaking off the cold and getting ready for work,” he said.

At a time when pollinator populations are in a serious decline, which affects the global food supply, beekeeping has become more than just a fun hobby.

“We wanted to get involved and do our small part to establish a few honey bee colonies at Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes,” said Jenna Waite, Mountain Community Homes marketing and communications manager. “Additionally, we provide and sustain a community garden area on post in Rhicard Hills.”

Waite said that they have been posting “Bee Happy” updates online to share news with Fort Drum residents.

“We are all buzzing with enthusiasm!” she said.

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