Preserving the Environment

Landing at This Airport: Millions of Bees

June 24, 2014
by
Menu
Landing at This Airport: Millions of Bees
Bee Colony. Matt Cardy/Getty Images
The Seattle airport partners with a local nonprofit to help the ailing insect.

The decrease in bee population is something that many people are fighting to fix, and rightfully so: they are vital to the survival of the very plants that provide our food. From the EPA’s recent grant to an app that catalogs bees around the world, there are countless solutions buzzing about.

At Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport, they’re trying a new approach (pun intended): Pairing the bee’s infrastructure — colonies — with our own.

Each day, Sea-Tac facilitates up to 855 take-offs and landings and now, the jets will be in the company of European honeybees, thanks to beekeeper Bob Redmond.

Redmond is the founder and executive director of Common Acre, a local nonprofit that “produces public programs at the intersection of earth and art,” according to its website.

The project, dubbed Flight Path, fits squarely into that mission and plays an important role in helping the bee population, as it aims to transform the open space at the south end of Sea-Tac into an ideal ecosystem for them, as well as educate travelers about the importance of bees. Twenty-five hives were constructed at Sea-Tac, housing up to 1.25 million bees — which is 50,000 bees per hive! With all that bustling activity, the airport is the perfect place to house the bees.

Doing so, however, means creating a habitat that will not only be suitable for pollination, but also breeding bees that are more adaptable. The second part of this plan is what makes Flight Path so unique — instead of just giving bees a home by setting up an apiary, Redmond is giving the whole population a boost and a better chance for survival. By actually breeding the bees to best survive life in the Pacific Northwest, he is effecting permanent change for the species.

Redmond sees a lot of similarities between the buzzing little yellow insects and airplanes, which he pointed out to Grist:

“All of these things humans have figured out — but fairly late in the game, evolutionarily speaking — the bees have been solving for eons,” Redmond said in reference to the bee’s “wiggle dance” navigation system, as well as its complex transportation and storage structure, all of which are unbelievably advanced for something so small.

Redmond’s dedication to these fascinating creatures began with a few hives in his yard, and has since expanded not only to Common Acre but also his business, the Urban Bee Company, which produces local and sustainable honey bee goods and services.

“The thing that we can learn from the bees is the collective spirit of cooperation — and consumption,” Redmond said to Grist. “That’s something that is not as easy to swallow, but vital to understand for our own future.”

A future that we can only hope has more arrivals than departures when it comes to the all-important bees.

Comments