Airports

Honey, I’m home! Airports help bees make a comeback

Don’t worry, ‘bee’ happy: the number of honeybee colonies in the United States is on the rise and airports are doing their part to help.

The county of honeybee colonies is up from 2.8 million in April, 2016 to 2.89 million in April, 2017, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s a plus for bees, of course, but because bees are credited with pollinating more than $15 billion of U.S. crops each year, it’s also a bonus for the economy.

It’s also news because since 2006 honey bees have been disappearing from their hives and dying at unprecedented rates due to a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

The culprits may be global warming, pesticide use, habitat loss and parasites, say researchers, but (more good news) the USDA survey reports that in the first quarter of from January to March 2017 there was a 27 decrease in the number of colonies lost to the disorder compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Honey helpers

Honeybee colonies are getting some comeback help from a growing number of airports hosting beehives and sharing their sweet stories of success.

In Victoria, British Columbia, Harbour Air just put four hives with 10,000 bees on the one-acre grass roof of its floating airport terminal for seaplanes. A “bee cam” lets passengers waiting in the airport lounge below watch the bees at work and, come fall, the airline plans to offer its own “Harbour Honey” to passengers to use as sweetener in the complimentary in-terminal coffee and tea.

Besides making a contribution to the local ecosystem, “This will be an important way to educate people of all ages on the importance of honeybees to our local environment,” said Bill Fosdick the president of the Capital Region Beekeepers Association, which is overseeing the introduction of the bee colony.

In late 2015, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport partnered with the “Bee Squad” program at the University of Minnesota to set up an apiary on airport property. Now 31 colonies are being tended to by U.S. military veterans.

Some of the honey extracted last year was sold to Chef Andrew Zimmern (of “Bizarre Foods” fame) and to General Mills to benefit the program. “We also gave some to the Veteran participants,” said Bee Squad Program director Becky Masterman, “This year’s extraction will be larger and we hope to sell some of the honey in the airport and have some used in MSP restaurants.”

Beehives were also installed at Montréal-Trudeau airport in 2015 (following a similar project at Montréal-Mirabel in 2014) and now each airport is home to about 300,000 honey bees. Some of the honey produced is sold to employees to raise funds for a local non-profit that helps low-income families and individuals; the balance is donated to local food banks.

Back in the United States, there are apiaries on property at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

At O’Hare, where the bee program is in its seventh season, there are currently 30 to 40 hives (down from a high of 75) and about one million bees on duty.

Operated by Sweet Beginnings, which gives training and jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals and others who may have significant barriers to finding jobs, the apiary produces about 35 pounds of honey per hive.

Under the ‘beelove’ brand, products made with the O’Hare honey, including lip balm, skincare creams, soaps and, of course, jars of raw national honey, are sold in Hudson News stores at O’Hare and in the Farmers Market kiosk in Terminal 3. Some O’Hare restaurants, including Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless, also use the O’Hare honey in meals.

In 2013, the Port of Seattle teamed up with The Common Acre, a local non-profit, to place clusters of honey bee hives on unused, open land at three Seattle-Tacoma International Airport locations.

Like the symbiotic relationship between bees and flowers, both the airport and the non-profit get something valuable from the deal.

The Common Acre is collecting scientific data from the hives “crucial to understanding and supporting pollinators,” said group founder Bob Redmond, and is selling the honey to help offset costs. Among other benefits, the bees help the airport keep large birds away from airplanes by supporting the growth of dense vegetation on a former golf course area.

(A slightly different version of my story about bees at airports first appeared on CNBC)

 

 

Kid Band Week at Austin Bergstrom Int’l Airport

Austin calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World and that claim extends to Austin Bergstrom International Airport, where there are more than 20 live music shows a week.

This week is Kid Band Week (July 17 – 21, 2017; Monday – Friday) featuring local musicians and bands ranging in age from 10 to 18 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.at the Asleep at the Wheel Stage, located near Gate 10.

Here’s the line-up:

Free airport meals for military personnel

Here’s a nice airport perk:

Paradies Lagardère, which operates restaurants in many North American airports, is once again offering free meals to U.S. military personnel through its Treat Our Troops program.

Between Memorial Day and July 4th, active or retired U.S. military may receive a free menu item and a non-alcoholic beverage in these participating airport restaurant and shops.

Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – Blue Ridge Tavern Long Beach Airport (LGB) – The Boathouse, Long Beach Marche, 4th Street Vine
Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – Ruta Maya Coffee, ThunderCloud Subs Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) – Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Core Brewing Co., CNBC Arkansas Traveler, Jammin’ Java, Say Si Bon! Gourmet Market, Smokewood American Grill
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – Abacus, Hickory, Whitetail Bistro Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – Bar Symon, Bottega dei Sapori
Denver International Airport (DEN) – Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Big Bowl, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The Magic Pan, Say Si Bon! TravelMart, Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) – Big Bowl, The Magic Pan, Say Si Bon! Gourmet Market, Washington Pour Bar, Wow Bao, U Street Pub
Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE Eagle, Colo.) – Alpenglo Grille, Alpenglo Express Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) – Pei Wei Asian Diner
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – Sweet Auburn Market  

 Active and retired U.S. military service personnel  just need to show their military identification when ordering or checking out and receive one menu item such as an entrée, sandwich, appetizer or salad, and a non-alcoholic beverage.

Hockey at airports? In restaurants and bars, yes.

Courtesy Provincial Archives of Alberta, via Flickr Commons.

If you’re a hockey fan, you’re no doubt paying attention to what’s happening with the NHL season playoffs and looking for TVs in airport where you can watch the games and be with your people.

Turns out, there  are plenty of hockey-themed restaurants and bars in airports.

Here are just a few, operated by HMSHost

Avenue des Canadiens at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport’s Domestic Terminal by Gate 01 celebrates the Montreal Canadiens.

Minnesota Wild in Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport’s Concourse H is Minnesota Wild-themed.

Sharks Cage Sports Bar & Grill in San Jose International Airport’s Terminal B by Gate B18 is all about the San Jose Sharks.

Stanley’s Blackhawks Kitchen & Tap in Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 2 by Gate E5 celebrates the Chicago Blackhawks.

Anaheim Ducks Breakaway Bar & Grill in John Wayne Airport’s Terminal C is where Anaheim Ducks fans will feel welcome.

And  Vancouver Canucks Bar & Grill in Vancouver International Airport’s US Terminal by Gate E81 is all about Vancouver’s NHL team, the Canucks.

Satisfied customers at these winning airports

DFW International Airport

Airports Council International (ACI) World just released its Airport Service Quality awards – which measure passenger satisfaction – and some of your favorite airports are likely on the list of 2016 winners.

In the Best Airport by Region (counting airports with over 2 million passengers a year), it was a three-way tie between Indianapolis International Airport (IND), Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) and Toronto Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) for Best Airport in North America.

In the “Best Airport in North America,” – by size – category:

*Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport took top honors among airports serving over 40 million passengers a year;

*Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport got the 1st place nod for airports service 25 to 40 million passengers;

*Tampa International Airport won for airports service 15-25 million passengers a year,

*Indianapolis International Airport got the 1st place prize for airports serving 5 to 15 million passengers a year; and

*Toronto Billy’s Bishop Airport (YYZ) won Best Airport in North American in the 2-5 million passengers a year category.

One other award to take note of: “Best Improved Airport in North America,” which went to  John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH).

See the full list of winners from around the world here.