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Bees and Leadership

Over the years, we’ve highlighted some amenities that you can add to your properties to potentially add joy and value for your tenants and visitors. A few of those are:

Meditation Gardens
Horseshoe Pits
Fire Pits
Outdoor Chess / Checkers

However, there is an emerging “amenity” that you may not be aware of - namely beehives!

Unfortunately, the world honeybee population has been decreasing year after year, so any way to increase the bee population is a win. Beekeepers are used to an annual 5 - 10% loss due to things like weather, pests, and the overuse of pesticides. However, in the past decade, the annual losses have averaged more than 30% annually! That means that over 15 million beehives have been lost. As a dire warning, it has been estimated that mankind would not survive more than five years if honey bees went extinct, so losses of this scale are truly troubling. Seven out of every ten bites you take was pollinated by a honeybee. This is a reference article that outlines some of the pressures bees face.

Enter Bee Downtown! Bee Downtown is a company that places and maintains beehives on corporate campuses. The company got started when Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, a fourth generation beekeeper, asked her landlord if she could keep bees in her apartment. When she was told “no”, she reached out to America Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC to see if they might be interested in having hives installed. ATC just happens to also be the world headquarters for the bee-product company Burt’s Bees. She ended up placing three hives on the roof of their building and the resulting media attention helped launch her endeavors.

After word got out, other companies requested that hives be added at their facilities. Subsequently, Bonner found that creating experiences like hive tours, beekeeping classes, and honey extractions created interest and excitement from those companies’ employees". Out of this realization was formed the Corporate Hive Program that allows employees to engage with the bees and each other. As this program was growing, she met retired Colonel Joe LeBoeuf, Professor Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, who saw the beehive as a metaphor to teach key leadership skills. Together they  formed the BDT Leadership Institute

For those that are thinking, “Are bees safe to have around my workplace?” Bee Downtown and the BDT Leadership Institute have had their programs vetted by dozens of corporate risk management departments and are managed by certified Master Beekeepers. From the types of bees that are kept, to proper fencing and protective gear, they’ve done their homework and are committed to a safe experience.

Are you interested in having a hive installed at your property? You can contact Bee Downtown directly to ask how to make that happen. Currently the company is only placing hives in the Raleigh/Durham, NC and Atlanta, GA areas. For more information visit their FAQ page.