Atop the roof of the tallest hotel in the Western hemisphere, on the corner of Broadway and West 54th St in midtown Manhattan, honeybees buzz to and fro from their well-manicured hives to the flowers of Central Park over 700 feet below. The Broadway Bees, as they are affectionately known, live in their rooftop hives throughout the year and make the long journey down to Central Park in droves in search of nectar to make their honey.

Our Manhattan-based c8648548055_8485f62136_zampers had the opportunity to visit these special honeybees during Pollinators Week at Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp. During this week each summer, we celebrate pollinators and the role they play in supporting a healthy food system. Did you know that pollinators like honeybees help grow one-third of our global food supply? Just ask our campers. After our adventures through NYC during Pollinator Week, they’re buzzing with knowledge!

Read on to learn about just a few of the ways we celebrated pollinators at camp this summer:

  • Meet & Greet with the Broadway Bees: For the second summer running, Butter Beans Food & Garden summer campers & Harlem Grown campers came together for a visit to the rooftop hives of the Broadway Bees at the Marriott Residence Inn by Central Park. Campers tasted local honeys, met the beekeeper from Bee Bold Apiaries, and witnessed awesome views of the bees’ foraging grounds at Central Park!
  • Foraging with Wildman Steve Brill: Across the East River, our Brooklyn-based summer campers set out on a foraging adventure of their own with Wildman Steve Brill. Wildman Steve (who answers the telephone as just that) led the Butter Beans campers on a tasty tour of Prospect Park’s wild edibles, many of which rely on pollinators to grow. Campers kept their eyes peeled for pollinators buzzing among the wildflowers of Prospect Park.
  • L’albero Dei Gelati : At this foodie oasis in Park Slope, our Brooklyn summer campers enjoyed the fruits of the honeybee’s labor with gelato made from scratch, using seasonal and local ingredients. L’Albero’s gregarious owner Monia put Butter Beans campers to work as the “Quality Control” task force. Campers had the important responsibility of ensuring that the strawberries for our seasonal gelato were perfectly ripe. Luckily their expert taste buds were up to the task, and the result was a heavenly strawberry lemon gelato!
  • Union Square Greenmarket: On our weekly trip to the Union Square Greenmarket, our campers set out on a ‘pollinators scavenger hunt.’ The goal was to spot fruits and veggies that might have been pollinated by a honeybee or another one of our pollinator friends. Needless to stay, their food-explorer journals were chock full of observations & sketches!
  • Dancing the Waggle Dance: Did you know that honeybees have a special way of telling their fellow hive-mates when they’ve found a new source of honey? The waggle dance is a figure-eight movement that worker bees perform to tell the other bees that they have found a source of nectar, and how to locate it. Our campers learned a version of their own at camp HQ this summer!

Interested in learning more? Check out these great resources & ideas on how how you can learn more about pollinators & help support a healthy planet for healthy bodies and minds!

Check back each week for a recap of camp adventures in our annual Campfire Stories blog series – coming to you this year from our two camp locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. To see pictures, videos, and more of the camp experience, visit us on facebook and check us out on twitter!

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education