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Bonduelle USA

Oakfield project: Bee-ing responsible is at the core of Bonduelle USA's corporate philosophy

By Mike Pettinella
May 18, 2021, 2:47pm

At the Bonduelle USA Inc. plant on Stevens Street in Oakfield, the produce of local farmers is processed and shipped frozen in totes weighing 1,500 pounds to cold storages throughout the nation.

While making sure Americans get their vegetables is the worldwide company’s primary focus, embracing the concept of “corporate social responsibility” also plays a vital part in Bonduelle’s philosophy.

That’s where the company’s beekeeping project, which has been restarted after being placed on hold due to COVID-19, comes in.

Steve Buerman, Bonduelle’s New York State Regional Engineer, initiated the program – building it on his experiences growing up on an apple farm in Wayne County that featured 35 beehives.

“Honeybees are critical for the pollination of more than 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables in the United States, creating an agricultural value of 20 billion dollars annually,” he said. “We identified that honeybees could use our help and the beekeeping project was started.”

Buerman said about 15 plant employees are working with the bees, which currently populate two hives, with about 20,000 bees – the queen, of course, along with worker bees and drones – in each hive.

“This is being done for educational purposes,” said Pascal Leduc, director of U.S. Operations. “Our company has a strong vested interest in the environment and the communities in which serve. Employees are encouraged to find ways to help the environment and develop action plans.”

Employees with backgrounds in horticulture and fruit farming, such as Buerman, are teaching others the basics of beekeeping – exposing them firsthand (while sufficiently protected) to honeybees – and encouraging them to start their own backyard beekeeping projects.

Plant Manager Eric Phelps said about 10 to 12 employees participated in 2019 and several started their own hives.

“Bees are vital,” he said. “We’re pleased to report that we’ve acquired two new swarms of bees and have installed them into their new hives. We expect the bees to be busy pollinating throughout the summer and, hopefully, making some honey, too.”

Buerman added that bees need “everyone’s help.”

“The advancement of monoculture agriculture, elimination of honeybee habitats and new pests and diseases have cut deeply into the bee population,” he advised. “Really, it’s a fun project which teaches people about bees and their importance. Our daily diet would be very boring without the fruits and vegetables that bees make possible.”

Bonduelle originated in France about 175 years ago and now has 56 plants around the globe, including 11 in the United States and nine in Canada. For more information, go to

Top photo: Bonduelle employees, upon receiving the nucleus colonies of bees, transfer the frames of honey, pollen, eggs and bees from the delivery boxes to their permanent hives.

Middle photo: Handlers gently puff smoke on the bees to keep them calm during the transfer.

Bottom photo: The transfer is complete, enabling workers to adjust the hive covers and install hive front feeders to provide the bees with food until they become settled in their hives.

Submitted photos.

Byron-Bergen schoolchildren learn about smart eating and healthy living

By Billie Owens
Nov 5, 2019, 11:54am

Submitted photos and press release:

Bergen -- Byron-Bergen Elementary School received some very special guests on Nov. 1. Representatives from the American Heart Association and Bonduelle USA kicked off Eat Smart Month by visiting every classroom and delivering vegetable seeds and a message about the importance of eating and living healthily.

Marc Natale and Robin Swan from the American Heart Association were joined by Janette Bonstead, Diane Cholowsky, Kortney Connell, April Fox, Michelle Hoffman, and Beth Scroger from Bonduelle USA to greet the elementary students as they entered the school. Each child went home with vegetable seeds and an informational brochure about eating healthy including a recipe for Simple Chicken Pot Pie.

“It’s important for us to be involved in the community,” said one of the Bonduelle participants. “We are located right here and it’s exciting to share information on healthy eating with our families and neighbors.”

As the guests visited classrooms, students became very excited to grow their own vegetables to eat.

“We want to inspire families and kids to talk about what it means to eat healthy, offer healthy meal options and seeds to start their own garden,” said Lorri Harkins, IT Service desk manager, Bonduelle Americas Long Life.

The message of eating healthy was reinforced in the lunchroom where Friday’s lunches included a special side dish.

“We are serving peas and carrots in the cafeteria today,” said Byron-Bergen Food Service Director Mary Della Penna. “This is a very nice community outreach project and we’re happy to participate.”

Byron-Bergen was one of three districts chosen for a November visit. Bonduelle provided more than 1,500 seed packets of peas and carrots for distribution

 during the first week of November to Byron-Bergen, and two Rochester elementary schools -- Fyle and Lakeshore.

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