Farm honors slain honeybees 

Twenty-seven pinwheels now stand at the base of the plywood platforms that once held two thriving hives of honeybees at the Hayes Valley Farm.

Each wheel represents roughly 7,500 European honeybees killed in one of San Francisco’s largest massacres of insects.

With a slight breeze in the chilly air and the fog slowly rolling into Hayes Valley late Sunday afternoon, volunteer Angela Goebel carefully placed some of the pinwheels in the ground. She said the pinwheel represents fluidity and constant movement.

“It’s something I’d been thinking about doing for a while,” the 23-year-old Richmond district resident said. “I was shocked and saddened that someone would do this.”

During an informal ceremony, volunteers gathered to share their thoughts on the killing of nearly 200,000 honeybees with household pesticides. Some were outraged by the act and others promised to learn from it.

Jay Rosenberg, co-director of the Hayes Valley Farm, said volunteers must make a better effort of reaching out to the community and educating them about the farm.

“This whole thing is about learning,” he told the crowd of more than two dozen volunteers. “We need to spend time with the neighbors to talk about this space.”

Rosenberg said the farm will move forward and new hives will be brought in, but not until safety measures are put in place.

To start, Hayes Valley Farm will host bee education classes as its way of trying to prevent future attacks on hives. No timeline was set for replacing the hives.

The honeybees were killed Monday when someone jumped the fence at the property, a permaculture farm that’s temporarily located on Laguna Street between Fell and Oak streets, and sprayed pesticides, completely destroying two hives and severely damaging a third.

Police Officer Albie Esparza said there’s no suspect in the case.

Brett McGuire, 47, a volunteer and member of the research-and-education team, said the pinwheel is representative of the bees in that the insect sees in ultraviolet rays. He said oftentimes the bee cannot find its way to the center of a flower. The flower, though, appears as a pinwheel shape in its eye and it’s naturally led tothe pollen.

As the pinwheels spun in the wind, Patricia Algara, 34, created a burning mixture of grasses, sage, juniper and honey from her own beehives as a way to clear the area of negative energy and prepare for the arrival of new hives.

“It creates a safe place for the bees,” Algara said. “Bees are important. They are a part of our survival.”

Video by Lauren Justice/Special to The Examiner

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