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.
Problem 3: Ex-convicts and others struggle to find jobs in the weak economy.
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.
Also check out:
• Seattle’s Pollinator Pathway Project