Durham company works to add beehives in urban environments

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham company is creating a lot of buzz by taking part in the growing trend of urban beekeeping.

Two years ago, fifth-generation beekeeper Leigh Kathryn Bonner, CEO of Bee Downtown, came up with an idea to get local businesses to place a beehive on their building or property.

“Last year we had 11 hives,” Bonner said. “Now we have 40 hives in 14 locations.”

The American Tobacco Campus was among the first businesses to add beehives to the rooftop of its power plant building. And now it is home to over 600,000 bees.

“Recent studies show honeybees survive in an urban environment. They’ve got a stable living environment, not living on trucks being shipped for pollination and there’s wide variety of floral sources to forage from,” Bonner said.

Some clients were worried about putting bees in an urban environment but Bee Downtown explained to them honey bees are very docile and won’t attack unless they are bothered.

And companies that put bee hives on their property are finding it’s good for business in more ways than one.

“Consumers are more likely to buy from a company that’s environmentally friendly or sustainable,” Bonner said. “So those companies say we can help the honeybee population and increase our revenue at the same time.”

Bee Downtown just doesn’t dump a hive at a business and “fly” away. It maintains the hives, checking on them weekly.

“There’s so much that can go wrong in a hive so we provide someone who knows what they are doing to maintain hives,” Bonner said.

And with continued urban sprawl happening everywhere, including North Carolina, some experts say urban beekeeping is the wave of the future.

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