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Photos by Zoe Holland and Hunter Buchheit

You Won’t ‘Beelieve’ This Company That is Helping Rebuild Bee Populations

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Some new residents have taken home on the top floor of the Peachtree Center parking garage: bees!

Two bee houses were set up by Bee-Downtown, an organization that works with corporations and sponsors to rebuild bee populations in urban areas. According to a 2021 Auburn University survey, “Beekeepers across the United States lost 45.5% of their managed honey bee colonies from April 2020 to April 2021.” This is why Bee-Downtown is working to repopulate an essential element in our agricultural industry. Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that make up about 90 percent of the majority of the world’s food. If bees were to go extinct, chances are we would be the next to go.

Bee-Downtown, which started in January of 2014, works with companies like Delta Air Lines, Invesco, and Georgia Power to add hives to their campuses. It came to “bee” when founder/CEO Leigh-Kathryn Bonner was in college and requested permission from her landlord to keep honeybee hives at her apartment. When he refused, Bonner went to the American Tobacco Campus where she was an intern, which was at the time, the location of the world headquarters of Burt’s Bees. The three hives she put on the roof of the building engrossed the local media, and other companies started asking her about adding bee hives to their campuses for the benefit of both the bees and the themselves. 

The bees piqued the interest of employees, and they were eager to learn and find out more.  This excitement brought Bee-Downtown to where they are today, offering experiences like hive tours, honey extractions, and beekeeping classes on a team and company level. They offer these experiences in hopes of building leadership and team working skills.

While the company is not non-profit, they state in their FAQ, “We believe Bee Downtown is most effective at delivering on our mission as a socially responsible Corporation.” To my knowledge, they use their profits to fund more initiatives and bee houses. They sell merch and offer tasting kits of honey from hives they’ve created. Bee Downtown currently runs the Corporate Hive Program in Raleigh-Durham, NC and Atlanta, GA with more cities to be added soon.

A sign displayed in front of the hives lists the main parts of the hive; the honey super, the queen excluder, and the brood box. The honey super is where most of the honey is stored and is only accessible to the worker bees. The queen excluder ensures that the queen only lays eggs in the brood box. The brood box is where the queen lays eggs, young bees are raised and pollen is stored.

If you know anyone who would be interested in adding some bee friends to their company property, send them to the Bee-Downtown website for more information. If you’d like to say hello to the new residents, you can go up to the second floor of “The Hub” at Peachtree Center and take a walk across the sky bridge before taking the elevator (or stairs) up to the top level of the parking garage.

I hope this article gave you a little bit of joy today, and that you might feel inspired to do your own part in helping the environment. Next time you see a bee, appreciate them for the work that they do to support our food production. Take a look around you and observe how every part of nature works together in an ecosystem. Have a great day and stay eco-conscious!

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