a beekeeperA buzz-worthy idea.I’m jaded, but sometimes an idea is so good that it breaks through my cynical shell and gives me hope. The Chicago O’Hare Airport apiary is one of those ideas: The project addresses three problems at once and should be immediately replicated by the rest of the airports in the world. 

Problem 1: Bee populations are mysteriously dying. Read more about colony collapse disorder and the threat it poses to agricultural production. 

Problem 2: Vacant land near airports cannot be used for development. FAA regulations prohibit many economically productive uses because having a plane crash-land on an office park is bad.

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Problem 3: Ex-convicts and others struggle to find jobs in the weak economy.

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Solution: Create a beekeeping project that uses vacant land in the flight path and trains ex-convicts in the art and science of beekeeping, selling the resulting honey and beeswax to support the program. Because the hives are largely unattended, otherwise-vacant land can be used productively. Since agriculture production depends on bees and other pollinators, we have a strong incentive to promote beekeeping and train unemployed workers to tend them. 

Read a full article about the project, buy the beeline-brand products, and support the program, which is run by Sweet Beginnings and the North Lawndale Employment Network. Then go badger your local port commissioner and job-training agency about getting something similiar started at your nearest airport.

More in Grist:
   •  Profile of Sweet Beginnings founder Brenda Palms-Barber

   •  Movement for metro pollinators is spreading

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Also check out:
   •  Seattle’s Pollinator Pathway Project