Bees play a vital role in nature and the world around us.

They pollinate food (like apples and cucumbers) and flowers, which is so much more important than one might think, but what if I told you that the United States lost about 44% of the bees in 2015-2016 alone? (www.beeinformed.org)

Officer Brian Layland is helping to change that. AND it’s even more impressive that it sounds.

You might know Officer Layland as a Moscow Police Officer.

He works with our school district as well, and trust me, when I say he’s awesome, he’s awesome. He’s one of the people I look forward to seeing every day.

He says hi to everyone at lunch, he stands up for people when they are getting teased or bullied, and so much more.

He’s a great dad and is married to one of our second grade teachers, he likes basketball, soccer, and working out.

But what you didn’t probably know about him is that he raises bees, chickens, and has a big garden.

Living in North Pocono it doesn’t seem strange to find out a neighbor has livestock or large gardens, but raising bees…pretty cool. It was the “bee thing” that caught my attention because I was reading how bees are disappearing all over the world.

I said to myself, “Wow! Officer Layland protects people, students, AND wildlife!” According to NPR and Scientific American bumble bees have been added to the endangered species list along with other species of bees.

Officer Layland originally wanted bees because he loves honey.

“I didn’t like buying it at the stores, though, because you don’t know what’s in it. Having fruit trees and a large garden, I knew bees help with pollination and things like that,” he says.

I mentioned earlier that this is more impressive than conservation, more impressive than holistic living, more impressive than jarring your own honey and here’s why: He’s allergic to bees!

My mother is allergic to seafood and we can’t even touch her if we eat it without washing our hands.

My brother, Angelo, is allergic to coconut, coconut oil and palm oil.

Once he put on a lip balm with coconut oil in it and my parents had to give him 2 Epi Pens and Benadryl. It was scary.

He said, “I do use a [beekeeper’s] suit because I don’t want to risk getting stung, going into shock and needing to go to the E.R.” I also asked if being allergic to bees makes him afraid.

He said, “I’ve never really been afraid of bees, of course I don't want to get stung, but you overcome those things and you find out they’re pretty interesting.”

Did you know bees can have nationalities like we do? I certainly didn’t! Officer Layland and his family have Italian and Russian bees.

He likes the Italian bees because they aren’t as aggressive as the Russian bees but the Russian bees are “more hardy” in the winter months.

Hives function around the ‘Queen Bee’. I asked him about Queen Bees, their purpose and function. He had a whole lot of information: There’s only one queen per hive.

The queen is a female bee that lays up to 1,000 eggs a day. She stands out from the other bees because she is much bigger due to the royal jelly that she gets. Royal jelly, you ask? I didn’t know either. “Well, it’s kind of like a more potent honey that makes the bees bigger.”

Scientists believe bees are dying for various reasons. According to a study reported on www.MotherJones.com reasons such as climate-change, colony collapse disorder and chemical interference.

We can help the bees by planting a garden, not using pesticides to treat our lawns or plants and by purchasing produce and plants grown without pesticides.

Bees play a vital role in our food and provide us honey, which Officer Layland loves. They are responsible for pollinating 70% of the world’s fruit, vegetables and nuts according to www.ASAPscience.com.

They really are valuable, just like Officer Layland.

He smiled and said, “this is why I the like The Lorax.”

He provided me with a quote that sums up the interview and the man.

“ ’Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ ”- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

He smiled again and said, “It’s so true because we NEED bees in our ecosystem.” Officer Brian Layland is an incredible person with a brave heart. The profession he chose proves that. He protects the environment too. He is the brave protector of the bees.

Who knows maybe I’ll be helping to protect the world around me someday too.