Local Beekeeper Makes Honey from BART’s Bees
If you passed by the four-inch notch in the wall on Bailey Road next to BART’s Pittsburg/Bay Point Station, you probably wouldn’t notice a thing. But if you took a closer look – not too close – you’d find a hive of hundreds of buzzing honeybees. The notch in the wall seemed like a keyhole into another world – one of order and organization, where the queen rules all and the honeycomb drips with its workers’ spoils.
Every now and then, a hive of bees crops up on BART property. Rather than exterminating the hive, BART brings in beekeeper Khaled Almaghafi to painstakingly remove the hive and relocate it. He makes and sells the honey produced from the thousands of bees he tends to (some of which once lived on BART property) at Bee Healthy Honey Shop in Oakland.
You might not be thinking about bees during your BART commute, but the groundskeepers at BART are constantly keeping an eye out for hives on our property. We can’t keep the hives in place as bees pose a threat to riders and community members with potentially life-threatening allergies, explained George DeOcampo, BART Facilities Maintenance Supervisor.
“We remove them because it can be a hazard,” DeOcampo said. We intentionally relocate the hives rather than exterminating the bees, DeOcampo said, because BART recognizes the importance of preserving this environmentally critical insect. By relocating the bees to Almaghafi’s hives, BART is protecting its riders and helping to protect the animal. (Wasps and yellowjackets are another story. BART brings in local vector control to remove these insects from its property.)
Almaghafi painstakingly removes bees and makes honey with his 100-plus hives in Oakland, Santa Clara, El Sobrante, and Richmond. He sells multiple varieties of honey – orange, chestnut, sage, turmeric – along with raw honeycomb, candles, and other goods, from his storefront in Oakland as well as his website.
He urges everyone to do their part to protect the honeybees. Honeybees play a major role in supporting earthen animal and plant life. As major pollinators of food crops, bees are a significant player in global ecology.
Climate change and the use of certain pesticides have decreased bee populations throughout the world in recent years. Though honeybees are not listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, many native bees are listed.
There are steps the average individual can take to help the bees, Almaghafi said. “Stop spraying chemicals in your backyard and plant flowers that benefit the bees,” he said. Some bee-friendly plants include annuals such as honeysuckle, sunflower, and salvia, and herbs, such as sage, thyme, and lavender.
As for Almaghafi, he said he hopes to one day travel the world and tell it the stories of bees. He also offered the following reminder with a wink: “Support your local beekeepers and buy their honey.”
Read more at BART.
See a cool video below from Eater spotlighting Khaled Almaghafi.