By Danny Schrafel
One Chris Algieri floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee in the boxing ring. The other makes sure the bees keep floating with the butterflies.
The dueling Chris Algieris – they’re cousins – teamed up July 18 for a fundraising concert to benefit the Long Island Beekeepers Club, a 66-year-old organization dedicated to educating beekeepers on the proper practices for the management of honey bees in a suburban environment and the general importance of honey bees.
The bee-keeping Algieri, 44, of Huntington, said the fundraiser at the Founder’s Room of The Paramount, featuring performances by Jen Chapin, Chris Campion of the Knockout Drops and the Bogmen, was a tribute to Craig Byer, an avid beekeeper who died June 12, 2014 in a motorcycle accident.
Byer lived a full life, Algieri said. In addition to motorcycles, he loved boating, skiing and snowboarding.
“He loved life. He did as much as he could. He crammed 80 years of life into his 40 years,” Algieri said.
Then, there were his honey bees. Byer, who kept bees in Fort Salonga, Huntington, Smithtown and Centerport, was also an advocate for apitherapy – using bees and bee venom for medicinal purposes – and served on the board of the American Apitherapy Society.
“That’s what his passion was,” Algieri said. “He even had a hive in his house between two window panes so when people came over they could see the bees.”
In life, the two shared a common interest in music, which sparked the idea for the tribute.
“An idea came to mind when I was thinking about some of the concerts he would have at his house. Months ago there was an idea to get his family and friends together and dedicate a concert to him in his memory,” he said. “The more we all thought about it, we started thinking about, why can’t we make it more than that?”
After Byer’s death, Algieri’s interest in bees grew, and his interest in advocacy began to grow.
“I became a member, began to research the bees and I didn’t know they were endangered,” he said, adding, “I’m proud to help them out as much as I can.”
The event raised $1,000, Algieri said, but the awareness raised for the dozens in attendance – the buzz, pun intended – is far more valuable, he said.
For more information, visit longislandbeekeepers.org