The practice of maintaining beehives on airport property began in Germany a decade and a half ago and has spread. It has now reached Seattle, Chicago and St. Louis in the United States.
The bees give airports a public relations friendly way to show off their green side and find a use for land that legally can not be developed. The hives are typically kept in the outskirts of the airport. It is also good for honeybees, whose population has been put under stress by “Colony Collapse Disorder.” While the number of bee colonies that died in 2014 was lower than in previous years.
Bob Redmond, a Beekeeper and executive director of the nonprofit “The Common Ace” helped to bring the idea to Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport after reading about a similar project at Chicago’s O’Hare. Sea-Tac helped get things going with a small grant and a 50-acre space. Redmond and his team now oversee twenty-five hives at the Sea-Tac airport. He realized he could not stop there because the honeybees need to work! While the honeybees are the main focus, his team are planting trees, shrubs and flowers on the land that will also be a food source for wild bees in the area. Many also do not realize water is a vital need for bees as well.
There are four thousand species of bees in North America and only one of them is the honeybee. The particular project helps to offset the project’s cost by selling honey to passengers. The honey tested by a lab to make sure it didn’t contain contaminants. Since the area around the beehives is not developed, the bees have access to a large range of native plants and this gives the airport honey a different flavor from that found in backyard urban beehives.