Bees are New Jersey’s official state insect, so it’s no coincidence that The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood is literally a-buzz with the yellow-and-black insects.
Valley was the first hospital in the state to install rooftop beehives in 2013. With eight hives total—four at Valley and four at the Robert & Audrey Luckow Pavilion, a satellite facility in Paramus—the hospital harvests more than 100 pounds of local honey that is sold in the hospital’s cafeteria and used deliciously in menus for patients, visitors and staff. The beeswax produced by the hives is also a main ingredient in the hospital’s own all-natural, house-made lip balms, body butters, hand lotions, foot balms and vapor rubs. Meanwhile, Valley estimates that the busy bees are helping to pollinate a two-mile radius around its facilities, increasing the yield of flowers, fruits and vegetables over an 8,700-acre area.
It’s all part of Valley’s commitment to the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, which it signed in 2010. “We have always been big supporters of locally produced food, and what could be more local than producing your own honey? We also like the idea of supporting the declining honeybee population while enhancing our community’s gardens, foliage and trees. We want to do all we can to be as green as possible to the environment,” said Dawn Cascio, director of food and nutrition services for Valley Dining.