Airports + National Bee Day

Honey bees are experiencing a drastic decline in the United States and that’s having a negative impact on the global ecosystem.

Creating habitats where they can thrive is part of the solution. And on National Honey Bee Day, Saturday, August 20, we recognize the contributions honey bees make to our lives.

Airports abuzz

Airports around the country are doing their part to help the honey bees thrive by hosting honey bee hives on airport lands.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), and Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport (MSP) are among the airports that have apiaries on site.

The bees at MSP Airport are there as part of the University of Minnesota Bee Veterans program, which provides free beekeeping education for Minnesota Veterans, including monthly workshops, including in-person and online workshops.

Here’s a video from MSP showing honey bees in the hive.

Does your airport have hives? (Tee-hee) Let us know and we’ll update our list.

Travel Tidbits from PIT Airport

From art to bees, therapy dogs and the “refreshing” of some statues, Pittsburgh International Airport is keeping busy.

First up: a charming video to announce that the PIT Paws therapy dog team has joined others across the country hand out trading cards to fans.

PIT Airport also shared a video about the more than 700,000 bees that reside on property:

PIT airport said goodbye – temporarily – to the statues of George Washington and former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris.

And the airport made room for a new – and somewhat large – piece of art.

The buzz about Victoria Harbour Airport

You can take a ferry between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia, but it’s much faster – and far more thrilling  –  to take a seaplane and land at Victoria Harbour Airport (YWH), a floating seaplane airport that is home to Harbour Air and Kenmore Air.

To mark the first anniversary of the floating terminal, Harbour Air, which serves 9 destinations in British Columbia, put a colony of honey bees (four beehives containing about 10,00 bees) and 50 solar panels on the airport’s one-acre green roof.

A screen inside the terminal will let passengers see how much electricity the solar panels are generating and a ‘bee cam’ offers a live feed of what the bees are doing.

The airport beehives – which airline officials think may be the world’s first floating hives – are already generating honey and by fall Harbour Honey should be available for purchase in the terminal’s coffee area. Sweet!


The buzz on bees at Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport


Busy bees are hard at work in hives out on the property of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Inside the airport, there’s also now an exhibit with bee-themed art and educational information about the importance of pollinators.

Titled Flight Path, the exhibit explores bees and flight through a variety of mediums including paintings, blown glass and a mosaic and includes the work of 24 Northwest artists.

Last year, the airport hosted 18 hives. This year, the Port of Seattle is working with a local group called The Common Acre to host 1.5 million honeybees in 24 hives on unused vacant land near the runways.

Sea-Tac isn’t the only airport with hives. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has honeybee hives on property as well and products made from the honey is for sale inside the airport.

Bee outfit

Busy bees help the environment & the bottom line

Waldorf Beehives Lower Res

Bed bugs in hotel rooms are definitely bad for business, but bees on hotel rooftops can be good for the financial and environmental bottom line.

Beekeepers are moving millions of honeybees into apiaries at hotels in urban and rural areas, with harvested honey showing up in restaurant dishes, beer and cocktails, spa treatments and in lip balm, soap and other products sold or given to guests.

Honeybees are now hosted at 21 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in North America, Asia, Africa, Bermuda and Mexico, including at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, where three hives with 105,000 Italian honeybees were installed in 2009 for set-up fee of about $1,200,

Maintaining the Fairmont’s DC hives is about $300 per year and the 300 gallons of honey harvested annually (plus honeycomb and beeswax) is used in the hotel’s signature “BeeTini” ($14), in honey walnut bread ($4), in various desserts and sauces as well as in lip balm, honey tea and sunscreen given as amenities and gifts to guests.

“We believe that our honeybees are good for business,” said Ian Bens, chief beekeeper and executive sous chef at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. “Our guests appreciate the fact that we are helping the bee population and the environment, and they enjoy the taste of local honey that is included in much of our culinary program.”

The Waldorf Astoria New York has had from 250,000 to 350,000 bees in residence since 2012, when six beehives were installed on the 20th floor rooftop for a cost of about $4,000.

The hotel’s honey is now an ingredient in dishes in every hotel restaurant and used as gifts by the hotel’s sales team for VIP guests and potential customers. Hotel officials also report that Sunday brunch revenue has increased over 20 percent since the installation of the hives and, since the addition of a tour of the rooftop beehives and garden to the hotel’s Historical Tours ($65 per person—inclusive of lunch, taxes and gratuity), demand has increased by 30 percent.

In Snoqualmie, Washington, not far from Seattle, the apiary at the Salish Lodge & Spa is providing honey for signature dining room dishes, spa treatments, honey-flavored beer and vodka and retail products ranging from honey-flavored marmalade, truffles and caramel corn.

Operating the apiary costs about $9,000 a year, “but we feel that there is no price for doing the right thing,” said General Manager Rod Lapasin. “It is essential that individuals and businesses alike do our part for our environment, of which we know the honeybee is a very essential component.”

Airports are also getting into the apiary business.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport receives about $75 per year to house beehives on 400 square feet of airport property just north of a runway. The abundance of Dutch clover and the lack of pesticides are big draws to both the beekeeper and the bees. And while the revenue for the airport is minimal, “it’s a great opportunity for us to assist in a ‘green’ initiative that’s positive for environment and the community,” said airport spokesman Jeff Lea, “especially in light of recent reports on bee colony collapse.”

Fifty beehives now sit on land owned by Chicago O’Hare International Airport and produce about 1,000 gallons of honey each year. Their honey is used in such beauty products as lip balm, moisturizer and bath lotion that are sold at Hudson News stores and other locations in O’Hare and Midway airports.

“We have grown the business from $5,000 in 2012 to $25,000 so far in 2013,” said Hudson Group spokeswoman Laura Samuels, who notes that the all-natural lip balm is an especially good seller.

The apiary program pays minimal rent to the airport, but some revenue from product sales does go back to the airport via Hudson News.

And this summer, 16 honey bee colonies were established on land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. “We’ve also raised two groups of local queens and are working with the airport to plan the installation of 50 acres of native wildflower meadows,” said Bob Redmond, executive director of The Common Acre, the nonprofit group coordinating the Flight Path project.

The group has already harvested about 250 pounds of honey, sales of which will go toward the costs of the project. Beyond that, he said, “the yields are long-term—healthy local bees, healthy habitat, support of native bee populations, the potential to distribute bees and wildflower seeds around the region, and education and inspiration of tens of thousands of people.”


(My story about bees at hotels and airports first appeared on CNBC)