The Research Triangle Park

Pollinator Week 2018

By Rtp Contributor Jun 18, 2018

Our RTP honeybees.

Have you heard? It’s Pollinator Week! Schools, community centers, and corporate campuses across the country are celebrating the ecosystem services provided by the Five B’s (Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Bats, and Beetles) and encouraging others to help pollinator populations thrive. Read on to learn what we’re doing in Research Triangle Park to promote the pollination of flowers and crops across the Triangle, and what’s to come (trust me, it will be delicious!)

Our Pollinators

Of all the pollinators, we focus our efforts on one B: honey bees! We’ve partnered with Bee Downtown to bring five beehives to campuses owned by the Research Triangle Foundation (there are two at RTP Headquarters and three at The Frontier). Our hives are two years old, and they’re a-buzz with over 150,000 honey bees that pollinate flowers from Southpoint Mall to RDU Airport. One of our hives is in the running for the top producer in the Triangle! I promised Bee Downtown’s Lead Beekeeper, Ben Dictus, that I wouldn’t quote the number he gave me (it’s too soon to tell before the harvest this fall), but Ben says the level of honey production is “blowing my mind!”

Collaborating With Our Community

Earlier this year we introduced our first beer collaboration, Worker Bee Wit, in partnership with Neuse River Brewing Company. This was both to to bring the message of pollinators to the Triangle region through a tasty honey brew (and we also just like really good beer!). Months later, it’s still a popular favorite at our weekly Frontier Happy Hour, and it was the featured beer at our Picnic in the Park event two weeks ago. We’re now eagerly awaiting a taste of our RTP honey mead that we’ve created in partnership with Honey Girl Meadery. It takes a full year to make mead and we started last fall. If we like it, you can expect to see it a lot more. We can hardly wait!

In my role of Director of Company and University Engagement for the Park, I have the pleasure of bringing jars of RTP honey to our company representatives when I meet with them to collaborate and share more about our work in RTP. It’s so awesome to see executives’ faces go from confused to delighted to intrigued when I hand them a little jar of honey at a business meeting, tell them it’s locally made (as in right outside their window!), and that it’s part of a larger ecological story in which our region is front and center.

What Pollinators Can Teach Us

Our Bee Downtown hives at The Frontier.

Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, Founder and CEO of Bee Downtown (and through helping bees together, I’m grateful to say she has also become a dear friend), was recently featured in Inc.Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs. Not only is this NC State grad creating beehives on global company campuses like SAS, IBM, and Burt’s Bees right here in the Triangle, she’s spread her wings and flown to Atlanta, working with companies like Chick-fil-A and Delta Airlines to not only include bee hives on their global headquarter campuses, but also to incorporate bee biology in leadership training for their staff.

Yes, you read that right: bees can teach us to become better business leaders. Colonel Joseph LeBoeuf, Professor Emeritus at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, recently hosted an all-day workshop at The Frontier about biomimicry and leadership for Chick-fil-A and Delta Airlines executives who are intent on using beehives to teach their full set of team members—from C-suite executives to frontline customer service employees—about collaboration and the “hive mindset.”

A lifetime serviceman with 34 years of experience in the Army, professor of entrepreneurship and board member for Bee Downtown, Colonel LeBoeuf knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed as a unit against all odds. An avid beekeeper, he uses bees as a metaphor for teaching about resourcefulness, personal responsibility, integrity, and dedication to the mission at hand to improve and protect one’s community. These lessons can easily be applied to your own backyard, a startup, or a Fortune 500 company. I’m excited to share that this workshop is a fledgling leadership program, and it’s taking root right here in RTP! Stay tuned as we continue work out the details with the Bee Downtown—we look forward to offering biomimicry leadership programs to RTP-based teams in the not-too-distant future.

Get Involved

Also on the horizon: look for RTP honey to make its 2018 debut in yet another honey beer later this fall! We’ll also be hosting a honey cooking contest, new interpretive panels at our hives, a mead tasting and opportunities to suit up and join us for a Honey Bee Hive Tour at The Frontier.

Have ideas for what we should do next with our honey, or ways to help local bees? Send your ideas to communications@rtp.org for a chance to win a bottle of RTP honey! Now go plant some flowers and say thank you to the Five B’s—they deserve it!