New Downtown Initiative ‘Pollinate Penn’ Creates Buzz in Reading

Residents and businesses are joining together in Reading to help support the local bee population. A new initiative, Pollinate Penn, seeks to educate the community and provide flower planters for display on Penn Street and beyond.

The initiative is lead by local business owner and bee keeper, Branden Moyer, and business owner, Nigel Walker, in partnership with the management team at the Double Tree Hilton Reading.

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On Tuesday evening, the organization held a kick-off event at the Hotel restaurant, providing guests with honey infused cocktails, sidewalk flower planters, and a sneek peek at the new upcoming rooftop lounge.

“This really is a conservation movement we are trying to make happen here, put Reading on the map, put businesses on the map, and we appreciate those involved” said Dan Hock, Director of Business Management for Reading Hospitality, introducing gusts to the party. “We can wait to have everyone back for our harvest party in the fall.”

Moyer is relatively new to bee keeping, only picking up the hobby following the shut down in Spring of 2020. He began by researching the industry, then installed several hives in his own backyard.

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“I went into the shut and wanted to learn something new, and something that I’ve never done before, and bee keeping was that” Moyer said.

“It was interesting at first, very daunting, especially sticking you hand into a hive that has 30,000 stinging insects. Once you get over the fear, you become hypnotized by the beauty of the honey bee and what they can do. It’s absolutely amazing”

Looking to expand and educate the community about bees, Moyer partnered with the DoubleTree Reading to install a rooftop bee hive. Eventually, the hive will supply honey for hotel cuisine and be sold in the lobby.

Moyer added, “I want to devote the space for educational time with people so they can learn about honey bees, what they do for our community, and how important it is to get the community involved.”

Learning about Moyer’s plan at the hotel, Walker expressed her interest in rallying the community behind the cause. A small business owner herself, selling bee’s wax infused soaps, partnered with Moyer to created the Pollinate Penn Street initiative to help bees thrive all across the city.

“Branden and I talked about the idea two and half months ago, and I said we need to talk to Craig Poole, they have a rooftop garden, let’s get some bees in the City” said Walker. “Everyone was super excited about it, and said let’s do this. That’s what it’s about, discussing things and getting it done”.

As Spring approached, Moyer installed two bee hives on the rooftop garden of the DoubleTree. Since then, Brad Stephenson, co-owner of Newcastle Lawn & Landscaping, joined the project to plan and construct a “pollinator garden”. The rooftop garden will include a floating deck, outdoor seating, and a bee friendly flower garden.

“We came in on the tale end. Branden and Nigel put in the ground work in to get things going” said Stephenson. “There vision is really cool and we are happy to be apart of it”

Guests of the kick-off party were businesses owners, residents and sponsors of the initiative. Each received a who flower planter to place on or near Penn Street. A total of 20 planters were distributed Wednesday evening.

In addition, corporate sponsor Visions Federal Credit Union, matched the goal of the project, paying for another 20 planters and the installation of an extra bee hive.

Finishing out the night, guests were ushered to the rooftop garden for a bee hive demonstration and tour of the planned rooftop garden deck.

The organization is still looking for community members to place bee friendly flower planters in the community. Walker added that the project isn’t limited to the City.

“Bees can travel as far away as 6 miles from the hive, so even those who live outside the City can take part in our program.”

Residents or businesses interested in a bee friendly flower planter can contact Nigel Walker at 484-525-5092. Local honey and bee’s wax infused soap is available for purchase at the DoubleTree Hotel lobby gift shop.

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Jason Hugg
Jason Hugg
Editor and photographer at Berks Weekly.
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