The bees have found a home at Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center. On Friday, April 24, 2015, the sisters along with staff and co-creators welcomed two hives of bees onto campus. The bees are part of a long-standing effort on behalf of the sisters to protect and preserve the Earth.

The sisters have spoken at public hearings, written and submitted their support of the bees to the trustees, hosted the Croton Bee Keepers and the Hudson Valley Natural Bee Keepers meetings at the Center on the north end of the Village of Ossining, and even screened a Bee film for the mayor and trustees to educate those around them about the importance of restoring natural habitats. In 2014, they along with residents, gardeners, friends, neighbors, and beekeepers, helped to create a new law that allows bees and beekeeping in the Village of Ossining.

Now, they’re welcoming bees onto their own grounds.

Located just south of the main office of the Dominican Family Health Services, there are two hives. The bees travel for up to three miles for food and pollination. They can drink from the Hudson River to the west or the brook to our east. The main beekeeper is co-creator Regina Blakeslee (pictured above) and her backup is John Bernard.

“We are tending our own bees as part of creating a sustainable and hospitable environment,” Dominican Sister of Hope Bette Ann Jaster said. “We are interested in restoring natural habitats on our campus, which add to the diversity, abundance, and productivity of the land.”

“We are interested in restoring natural habitats on our campus, which add to the diversity, abundance, and productivity of the land.”


Sister Bette Ann with her beekeeping accoutrements

The bees are just one chapter in the sisters’ effort to honor and preserve the Earth. In addition to participating in climate marches, attracting monarch butterflies, and various other initiatives to honor and preserve the Earth, the sisters announced the approval of their Corporate Stance on Climate Change this past Earth Day.

“Climate change is, to me, fundamental,” Dominican Sister of Hope Nancy Erts explained. Sister Nancy helped to raise awareness about the importance of bees and was present when the new legislation was approved.

For her and the Dominican Sisters of Hope at large, caring for the Earth is a matter of spirituality, of justice, of life itself.

“We are called to be co-creators and co-redeemers of God’s work,” Sister Nancy said. “We’re trying to bring new life and new creativity [in the way of] ecological justice. We’re allowing God to work in all things, and in us.”

Full coverage of the sisters changing Ossining legislation is available at Fios and News12 have video coverage. The Sisters are also featured on Page 5 of The Examiner News.

The Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit ecumenical retreat center and a sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Hope located in Ossining, New York on the Hudson River. For more information about the Center, facilities, and programs, visit or call 914-941-4455.