U.S. promotes honeybees with hives at buildings

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The U.S. government has deployed thousands of honeybees on its buildings in the country to assess and promote the health of bees and other pollinators who play a key role in food production.

The Warren B. Rudman courthouse is one of several federal facilities around the country participating in the General Services Administration’s Pollinator Initiative.

The program is part of an effort to assess and promote the health of bees and other pollinators, which are critical to life on Earth.

The program also seeks to determine best practices for bee health that can be applied to both government buildings and the private sector.

David Johnson is the General Services Administration’s sustainability program manager for New England.

“They’re great ambassadors. So, nobody in this building was talking about pollinators before the bees arrived, but they really did start a buzz in the building the day they arrived. And even though they’re up here on the roof, you can see them from our neighboring Cleveland Building over there. And then we do communicate with our tenants that the bees are up here. So, people start talking like we are now: Why do we have pollinators? Why do we have bees? What’s up with pollinators? So, you know, we have a pollinator program, this is a very visible ambassador. The bees are a great ambassador for pollinators in general,” Johnson says.

The busy insects that contribute an estimated $25 billion to the U.S. economy annually are under threat from diseases, agricultural chemicals and habitat loss that kill about half of honeybee hives annually.

Without human intervention, including beekeepers creating new hives, the world could experience a bee extinction that would be a catastrophe for humankind, experts say.

“We have a federal mandate from the Office of the President to support pollinators, cause pollinators have a rough life. And so overall, we have a program, a Pollinator Initiative. So as part of the Pollinator Initiative, this particular sub program is … it fills a couple of roles. One of them is, is that Best Bees as a company is running a data science. They use a DNA analysis of honey to talk about the health of the pollinators in the area. So, … every hive that’s involved in that data science program is bringing pollinator science back to the health of pollinators,” Johnson says.

The GSA’s program started last year with hives at 11 sites.