Bees arriving at your airport—Fear Not, Hives are Green

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Airports are designed so that winged vehicles can land; according to The New York Times article (below), airports make great apiaries.

As has been widely reported, bees are in a world-wide decline; so it is a win/win proposition for airports to be environments to propagate bees. The writer explains how bees at airports work well:

“Urban beekeepers need more space, and airports have space to spare. Bees do well in urban environments where there are people to manage the hives, diversity of flowers and no agricultural pesticides.”

Airports are generally not good locations for wildlife and the literature is well developed as how to introduce barriers to their entry. This article makes it clear that bees can thrive in the nooks and crannies of landing fields. Dr. Elina Lastro Niño, a member of the apiculture faculty at the University of California, Davis, said that eliminating pesticides from these areas could make airports a good environmental project for airports. She also suggested that the selling of the airport honey could raise additional revenues and educate the public about this positive contribution by management.

The list of airports with apiaries is surprisingly long:

  • Aeroports de Montreal,

  • Hamburg,

  • Düsseldorf,

  • Frankfurt,

  • Dresden,

  • Hannover,

  • Leipzig/Halle,

  • Nuremberg

  • Munich

  • Malmo Airport

  • Copenhagen,

  • Chicago’s O’Hare,

  • Seattle-Tacoma International and

  • Lambert-St. Louis International

The bee fostering community is replete with local organizations which are interested in establishing hives, caring for them and harvesting honey. In Montreal, Miel Montreal provided that support and in Chicago, the local group is Sweet Beginnings (which hires men and women recently released from prison as the workers); a European example of such cooperation is City Bee Association in Copenhagen.

Another collateral benefit of the beehives is they constitute excellent biomarkers. By testing the honey and beeswax, scientists can detect levels of heavy metals, volatile organic hydrocarbons and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Talk about a symbiotic addition to an airport.

It is so ironic that a swarm of bees around a hive is just a smaller scale of aircraft swarming an airport. It is also helpful that many, but not all, scientists believe that bees cannot hear, making their habitats compatible denizens within the fences.

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1 Comment on "Bees arriving at your airport—Fear Not, Hives are Green"

  1. I run a non profit with mission to educate the public on critical need to preserve honey bee keeping. We had an airport apiary set up in EWR for a few years and local management forced us out even though we were approved by corporate. We offer a unique strategic plan that includes the benefits of airport apiaries. Who can we speak with?

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