Recycling transfer station welcomes two bee hives

By Angela Goebel

beecology Recyclers aren't the only busy workers at the recycling transfer station, fondly known as the city dump.

Honey bees, which play a critical role in plant reproduction, fly from two hives at the south end of the property to gardens in Visitacion Valley and to Candlestick State Park.

Recology employee-owners are learning the art of beekeeping from San Francisco Bee-Cause. Both organizations support local agriculture through their work.

Recology collects food scraps and plants to produce nutrient-rich compost used on vineyards and farms, including urban farms. SF Bee-Cause works to help ensure an adequate presence of bees in the city to pollinate fruits and vegetables.

The buzz about bees began at Recology last year with lunchroom discussions about the crucial connection between bees, the food supply, and the environment. Employees decided to tend beehives and asked Karen Peteros, co-founder of SF Bee-Cause, for advice and assistance.

"Without the work Recology does to educate and enable San Francisco residents to reduce and recycle household hazardous waste, our bees would have a considerably less healthy environment in which to forage for needed pollens and nectars," Peteros said.

Employee-owners Julio Gomez and Sam Selak poured two hive platforms using recycled concrete and coated the beehives with recycled paint, one in blue and one in green. In February, Bee-Cause brought two hives from Hayes Valley Farm to the transfer station and installed them near a storage yard.

About one-third of the food supply depends on pollination. Without honeybees, Americans would be deprived of dozens of produce staples, from apples to zucchini.

"Plenty of worker bees have been returning with legs covered in red, yellow, or orange pollen," said Gary Keep, a senior compliance specialist at the transfer station.

Some years, Peteros said, hives yield pounds of honey - some years nothing.

Honey or not, the employee--owners at Recology are excited and proud of the project, which helps sustain plants and farms.

Angela Goebel is a customer service representative at Recology Sunset Scavenger, an SF urban farmer, and a bee enthusiast.