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After a long hibernation—due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—all of our regional filming teams were eager to re-enter the world and learn more about their local bees and beekeepers! When we first heard that we had to put our filming on hold for months, we were all understandably disappointed. However, we never lost our commitment to finishing the documentary and telling the world about our local beekeepers. As states in the Northeast began slowly recovering from the enormous toll the pandemic took on the population and economy, our New York and New Jersey teams started to regroup and plan their upcoming shoots. Once the orders were given that it was safe to resume interviews, our two teams called all of their contacts and began scheduling dates to interview and film bees. 

June has been a big month for our New York and New Jersey teams who hit the ground running as soon as the two states began reopening as the threat of COVID-19 continues to subside. Both teams started scheduling interviews as fast as they could to fill in the gaps in the story of our documentary. However, now that COVID-19 has decimated economies and closed many businesses—some for good—we also had many new questions that never arose before the shutdown. How did COVID-19 affect the bees? How did it affect the beekeeper’s business? What about the Murder Hornets we have been hearing about? All these questions have been running through our minds over the past four months. 

On June 22, New Jersey shot their first interview since March, when the orders were given to remain indoors and avoid contact with other people. Our New Jersey team headed to Fords, NJ to meet Grant Stiles, owner of Stiles Apiaries, to learn more about his almost 40 years of experience with beekeeping. Grant has over 10,000 Bee Hive Boxes and explained commercial pollination vs commercial honey production. He also touched on problems with pesticide usage, which is a major concern for many beekeepers around the world.  

Since our New York team was only able to get a handful of interviews filmed before the shut down, they knew they had a lot of work to do in order to catch up. As some parts of New York began entering phase 1 and then phase 2, our documentarians began making calls and setting time frames for future interviews. After weeks of discussions and scheduling, on June 16, our New York crew finally hit the road and headed to Long Island for a few interviews. There, they interviewed Chris Kelley of Promiseland Apiaries, Deb Klughers of Bonac Bees, Elizabeth Keihm of Homecoming Farms, Jody Gangloff-Kaufman who is an entomologist at Cornell University, and Julie Kapuvari who works as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program, along with her father, David. 

A few days later, the New York team was at it again, this time heading upstate to Dutchess County for a series of interviews with members of the Northern Dutchess Beekeepers Club in Rhinebeck, NY. At this shoot, they had the opportunity to interview Paul Slayton, the President of the Northern Dutchess Beekeepers Club, as well as Vice President Michael Lancto, and Adrienne Lavalle who owns Apiary 16 in nearby Milan, NY. The team could hear about their story and passion about beekeeping.

As New York and New Jersey continue to reopen and restart over the coming weeks and months, our two teams will continue to interview more beekeepers and learn more about what makes them special. With more footage from these shoots, we are now planning on continuing to edit our film and piecing it together in the upcoming months. 

Our timing is perfect as Pace has announced that our Fall semester will resume on August 24th. We are ready to get back to editing and tell our story.

Do you or someone you know keep bees? We want to hear your story! Pace University’s Pace Docs crew is in the process of producing a documentary about Urban Beekeeping, the latest in a series of award-winning environmentally and culturally relevant documentaries from our department. Contact us at paceudocs@gmail.com. And follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok for more content!