Barrington Hills looking to create a buzz with commitment to bees

Village becomes the second Bee City USA in Illinois, promoting pollination

  • Karen and Brian Thomson own Honey Lake Bee Co., which was honored by the village of Barrington Hills last week for winning the honey-tasting challenge at the town's annual fall festival. They support Barrington Hills' commitment to becoming a Bee City USA.

      Karen and Brian Thomson own Honey Lake Bee Co., which was honored by the village of Barrington Hills last week for winning the honey-tasting challenge at the town's annual fall festival. They support Barrington Hills' commitment to becoming a Bee City USA. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Honey Lake Bee Co. owners Karen and Brian Thomson have about 50 hives in the Barrington area.

      Honey Lake Bee Co. owners Karen and Brian Thomson have about 50 hives in the Barrington area. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted11/4/2019 5:33 AM

Barrington Hills leaders hope to create some buzz for the village by committing to bees.

Village board members recently passed a resolution to have Barrington Hills become a Bee City USA affiliate. The town is the second Bee City in Illinois, behind downstate Carlinville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The village of Barrington Hills should be certified a Bee City USA community because of our decades-long dedication to preservation of open spaces, encouragement of animal keeping, including bees, and our promotion of pollinator gardens with a demonstration garden located at the village hall," the resolution states.

Barrington Hills' advisory environment committee will be in charge of the program, which has requirements such as a minimum of one bee-related celebration annually to raise pollinator awareness and installation of at least one Bee City USA street sign in a prominent village location.

Village Clerk Nikki Panos said Barrington Hills plans to work with local conservation organizations to ensure Xeres Society Inc.'s Bee City rules are followed. She said the environment committee, chaired by Trustee Paula Jacobsen with Trustee Robert Zubak as a member, meets Bee City's requirement to have a government-sanctioned panel with a regular public meeting schedule for the program.

"This structure provides a forum for the community to get involved in establishing or restoring habitat that provides food, nesting sites and overwintering sites for pollinators," Panos said.

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Resident Virginia Brown, a soil scientist and environmental consultant, asked Barrington Hills to join Bee City's 27-state, 100-member roster that includes Atlanta and San Francisco. In addition to raising awareness in urban areas, Bee Cities are expected to help educate residents on how to provide a healthy habitat for pollinators.

"Barrington Hills already does a lot of the (Bee City) requirements, but they just didn't have a title yet," Brown said.

Beekeeping already is permitted in Barrington Hills. And the town hosted a honey-tasting competition during the annual The Hills Are Alive festival on Sept. 29, just a few days after the village board agreed to join 7-year-old Bee City USA.

"It's a great way to highlight what you can do here to celebrate open spaces and at the same time have a conservation angle," Village President Martin McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin judged samples from the four local honey operations that participated in the contest.

He declared Honey Lake Bee Co. as the winner and recognized its owners, Karen and Brian Thomson, with a village board proclamation and holiday ornament last week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While based in North Barrington, the Thomsons have bee hives in Barrington Hills, Lake Zurich and Lake Barrington.

They liked that Barrington Hills committed to Bee City USA.

"I think it's nice and unique for the villages around here, because not all the villages, surprisingly, allow beekeeping," Brian Thomson said. "But more are, I think, looking at it and changing their ordinances to be accepting of it."

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