Things have been buzzing over at Brookline’s Hancock Village since last spring when two honey beehives were installed on the grounds of the 80-acre residential property – one of the only such installations at a multifamily apartment community of this size in the country. The active beehives, along with pollinator gardens and birdhouses, are part of owner Chestnut Hill Realty’s (CHR) innovative Nature Positive initiative, the company’s five-decade long commitment to environmental sustainability and preserving natural resources.
This fall, Hancock Village residents will literally be able to enjoy the fruits of the bees’ labors when honey from the first annual harvest will be sold with proceeds benefitting the Urban Bee Lab, a non-profit working on bee research and education. Two honeybee hives have also been installed at CHR’s corporate office and nine of its local apartment communities, including Hancock Village, Hancock Estates, 1443 Beacon Street, Waterfall Hills, Water View Village, Village Green, Norwest Woods, Norwood Gardens and Ridgecrest Village, in an effort to encourage and nurture area biodiversity.
In partnership with Best Bees Company, America’s largest beekeeping services provider, the beehives are established and cared for by professional beekeepers. Pollinator gardens contain native plants to provide food and shelter to animals, which include bees, birds, and butterflies. The bees are Italian honeybees, prized for their pollination and honey-producing abilities.
Ed Zuker, Founder and CEO of Chestnut Hill Realty and long-time environmental champion, notes the urgent need to play a more active role in conservation efforts. “Pollinators are in decline due to losses in green space and widespread use of pesticides,” said Zuker, “and without them, we’re in trouble.” Zuker and the team at CHR have committed significant resources to the Nature Positive program through four primary areas of focus : Ecosystem Conservation, Sustainable Purchasing, Healthy and Mindful Outdoor Living and Natural Resource Conservation. Zuker has even hired a horticultural project director who oversees the care and health of the beehives throughout CHR’s properties.
“Chestnut Hill Realty is dedicated to redefining real estate in the 21st century. Our beehive and Nature Positive Initiatives are not window dressing, it’s about building vibrant, sustainable communities,” Zuker added.
Over at Hancock Village, the two beehives are located near a cliffside pollinator garden. Each hive contains approximately 50,000 to 60,000 bees. Most are female, non-queen worker bees and a few hundred to a thousand are male drone bees. Each hive also has one queen bee. Signs caution passersby against disturbing the bees or coming closer than 10 feet to encourage safety for residents and the hives. In addition to the beehives, pollinator gardens and birdhouses, Hancock Village also boasts solar panels and green roofs at the newly constructed 25,000 square-foot community center, EV charging stations, recycling centers, nature walking trails, and a community garden.
For more information on Chestnut Hill Realty’s Nature Positive beehive program, view this video:
CHR Nature Positive: Pollinator Program
PICTURED: Chestnut Hill Realty’s Horticulture Project Administrator Chloe Hundertmark with two Best Bees Company beekeepers during the installation of beehives at Village Green in Plainville.