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Attila Devenyi, M.D.

Attila Devenyi, M.D., welcomes visitors to his home.

That includes birds, snakes and insects – especially bees. 

Dr. Devenyi, Chair of the Lancaster General Hospital Department of Pediatrics and an amateur beekeeper, finds peace and relaxation from the “guests” who frequent the outdoor space around his Hershey-area home.

“I love seeing a pileated woodpecker or a grosbeak fly into the backyard, and having bees around,” he said. “There’s a certain spirituality that comes with being out in nature.”

Dr. Devenyi, a pediatric gastroenterologist, first tried beekeeping about 10 years ago, at the encouragement of his neighbor, fellow physician and bicyclist, the late Dr. Crispin Foster.

He admits he was nervous at first.

“You have to get over the initial shock of a buzzing insect at your ear,” he said. “You’re naturally adverse to it. After a while, you pay almost no attention to worrying about being stung. You just focus on what you’re doing.”

Dr. Devenyi, who typically keeps two to four hives, wears a mask and protective clothing when tending to his backyard bees. He currently doesn’t have any active hives, because it got harder to keep them going over the winter.

“Beekeeping is a lot of fun,” he said. “You don’t do it for the honey. I never get a lot of honey, and I leave it for the bees.”

Many homeowners don’t realize how their landscaping choices can negatively impact the environment. Dr. Devenyi encourages people to look beyond appearances when choosing trees and plants. Bradford pear trees, for example, might look pretty, but unlike other trees, they don’t support caterpillars.

“With no caterpillars, there’s nothing for baby birds to eat,” he said. “We are dependent on insects and other forms of life. We are slowly destroying that ecosystem.”

Similar issues affect the bee population. To draw pollinators to your yard, Dr. Devenyi suggests planting hoary mountain mint, which attracts 147 different species.

He recommends Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association or the Penn State Department of Entomology as resources for would-be beekeepers.

And to answer the natural question, yes, he’s been stung plenty of times.

“You can’t let it bug you,” he said.

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