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Creating a Buzz With Recycled Pharmacy Coolers

Creating a Buzz With Recycled Pharmacy Coolers

What is the buzz around Tim Riggleman? How is pharmacy waste connected to beekeeping?

An innovative idea from Valley Health employee and beekeeper Tim Riggleman means Stryofoam medicine containers are recycled for hives, keeping his honey bees happy and waste out of the landfill.

A Senior Clinical Systems Analyst in Information Systems, Riggleman was drawn to his new hobby about three years ago after learning about beekeeping from a work colleague.

“I was very interested in beekeeping, but apprehensive at the same time. About 35 years ago, I was throwing a softball around at a family reunion and it went into a honeysuckle thicket. I grabbed the ball and was covered in yellow jackets when I stood up. They stung me anywhere and everywhere. In the emergency room, they stopped the sting count at around 200.”

That would have been enough to dissuade most people from bee-related activities, but Riggleman describes aspiring beekeepers as “a different breed”. It was several years later when he would meet a swarm of bees again. This time, the encounter would take place from the safety of a bee suit in his friend’s yard.

“Even with the full bee suit on, I was a little nervous. He talked me through how to take the lid off of the box and I had about 2,000 bees in front of my face and flying all around me. I immediately fell in love with it!”

Riggleman successfully started two hives of his own. To help build his collection of hives, also known as an apiary, he has been recycling Valley Health’s Styrofoam medicine containers that would otherwise be thrown into the garbage.

“Not only am I recycling these coolers that would typically end up in a landfill, I’m actually repurposing them to build smaller frames. This way, I can split the hives and create smaller mating nucs. I don’t waste anything. When you start beekeeping, you have to buy the equipment. I’m thankful for the recycled coolers because I am able to be more self-sustainable.”

Bonnie Pitt, corporate director, Pharmacy, fully endorsed Tim’s request to reuse the team’s trash. “The Pharmacy is excited that Tim is repurposing Styrofoam storage coolers to create hatching stations for more queens. It’s a great way to recycle VHS waste.”

These mini mating nucs, each made from a recycled medicine cooler, are essential in raising queen honey bees. Careful planning is an important component of successful beekeeping. Riggleman already has his eyes on his spring 2021 goal – raising 30 queen bees.

“They will go from an egg to larvae, then pupae to a full adult worker bee in about 21 days. Queens can grow even faster than that, closer to 16 days.”

Riggleman has spoken at schools, churches, and conventions about his love of beekeeping and the importance of honey bees to pollination and the larger ecosystem. He is also an active member of BONS (Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah). Through BONS, members are able to learn more about the activity and network with fellow beekeepers. Education is also crucial in successful bee rearing.

“There are many hazards that can ruin a hive, including colony collapse disorders. There are also Varroa mites, small hive beetles, and several other pests that can completely wipe out a hive. As beekeepers, it is our role to spot these threats through regular inspections and to prevent them.”

Riggleman is among many beekeepers worldwide helping to fulfill a large need. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pollinators are at risk due to pesticides and other man-made threats. Studies show that honey bee colonies have been declining for years across North America and Europe.

“One out of every three foods you eat depends on the honey bee,” adds Riggleman. “For example, almond trees can only be pollinated by honey bees. If we lose honey bees, we lose every almond on the planet. We also wouldn’t have gardens of squash, melons and berries.”

Riggleman gets inspiration from the Albert Einstein quote, “if the bee disappeared off of the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live”.

You can learn more about Riggleman and his beekeeping by visiting his Quail Run Apiary Facebook page!

Who knew? Check out more unique stories about Valley Health team members in this fun new series! More stories coming soon! Have a story idea? Contact