Half a million Honeybees are now buzzing around Sea-Tac Airport’s open space

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Sea-Tac Airport’s lead beekeeper, Bob Redmond, director of the local nonprofit The Common Acre, and beekeeper David Feinberg look at the health of the hive next to the center runway. Click image to see larger version. Photo Credit: Port of Seattle

A half-million honeybees have become the newest flying objects to join with 777s and other aircraft that call the airport home as the Port of Seattle has partnered with the nonprofit The Common Acre in a project named Flight Path, which makes Sea-Tac one of the first airports in the nation to feature an apiary.

Six hives sit at three vacant, undeveloped sites near the field. Like most airports, Sea-Tac has large tracts of open land that provide an added buffer for both safety and noise mitigation such as the runway protection zones.

With open space around the airfield and bee populations in decline, the Port of Seattle says the airport is uniquely suited to host honeybees and other pollinators. A long-term goal is to promote hardy bee populations in the region by increasing their genetic diversity and supporting them with adequate habitat.

“As a leader in sustainability, we are pleased to become one of the first airports in the U.S. to host bees,” said Port Commissioner Bill Bryant. “Bees are a critical part of the food chain and connect with our goal of growing sustainably and increasing the economic contributions of the port while reducing our environmental footprint.”

Honeybees pollinate approximately one-third of all U.S. crops that humans eat and three quarters of all of the flowering plants in the world, the Port of Seattle said in a news release. As a key part of the food chain, bees provide a regional benefit and further the Port’s goal of helping the local economy through a robust agriculture industry and related jobs. An estimated $15 billion worth of freight, including agricultural products, is exported through Sea-Tac each year.

In the face of the massive national and regional decline of bees, the program will contribute to the number of healthy bees in the region. Deforestation, disease, urbanization, invasive species and harmful agricultural and land management practices all contribute to the decline of honeybees, the Port said. The project will raise and select for the highest quality queen bees to help strengthen hive health for other beekeepers in western Washington.

Bees at Sea-Tac also will contribute to the port’s local conservation efforts at the airport’s wetland mitigation sites where nearly 150,000 plantings and other restorative projects have been underway since 2007.

“We’re excited to work with the Port of Seattle to support pollinator health,” said Bob Redmond, director of The Common Acre and lead beekeeper for Flight Path. “This project is a poster child for land stewardship: the habitat, the bees, and our food system all benefit. The port’s leadership is exemplary — I hope Flight Path becomes a model for other projects in the region and nationwide.”

Seattle-based non-profit The Common Acre advocates healthy agriculture through practical programs like this one, as well as through arts and education programs. In addition to the conservation elements of Flight Path, The Common Acre also is launching an arts program to educate and inspire youth and adults.

To increase public awareness of the importance of honeybees, Sea-Tac Airport will host a bee art and educational exhibit on concourse B. The exhibit, slated to open in January 2014, will include work on the subject of flight and bees by local artists Mandy Greer, Jason Puccinelli, David Lasky, Celeste Cooning and many others.

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6 Responses to “Half a million Honeybees are now buzzing around Sea-Tac Airport’s open space”
  1. Mykal says:

    This is a bee-autiful and very important project that they are starting here! What an intelligent use of empty airport land. I am happy to see the airport making such a positive contribution to our community. All the local farmers, plants, and animals thank you!

  2. Verde says:

    Said it on the FB page and will repeat here – this is great, but we need to help. Stop using Round-Up and other pesticide/herbicides in your yards and gardens. Please!

  3. Coverofnight says:

    I hope the jet exhaust doesn’t affect the bees as it has to humans. Seems like a good idea, but I hope they watch this aspect, too.

  4. Theresa says:

    This is great! So much of the wetlands and other habitat was destroyed for the third runway project. This is a step in the right direction. I too hope the noise and fuel pollution won’t have a negative impact on these wonderful and essential little guys 🙂

  5. Tricia says:

    Here’s to a 3rd beehive !

  6. Av says:

    We live in SW Florida. Our neighbor threw out a half dead purple bougainvillea. The lure of saving the plant was too strong due to my love of the flowering varieties and the joy I experience in propagating, especially those with the chance of proliferating such beautiful blooms.

    That gorgeous purple bougainvillea is now thriving in it’s new home, my yard. Since replanting this free 6ft tall topiary with its color of such reverence and royalty, PURPLE, we have had a problem with bees. We have had the beekeepers out numerous times. The most recent colony was easily 800,000 bees. This is in a residential neighborhood, so needless to say, this swarm was threatening to our neighborhood, elderly, children, dogs, etc….but, most alarming to our home, besides the constant expense to remove them and the fact they blocked our cars and front entry to our home, my husband is deathly allergic to bee stings. One bee sting could have him rushed to the hospital, we are now on a mission to get the word out about bee colonies successes and also the dangers around the color purple.

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