RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus was literally buzzing with excitement Friday, as thousands of bees arrived for a new apiary.
CBS North Carolina was there as the bees settled into their new homes. It’s part of a concerted effort to bring more bees to urban areas in the Triangle.
With help from area companies, the organization Bee Downtown is building 50 hives in various urban locations in the next week.
“Studies show that honey bees thrive in urban areas. There’s more diverse food sources, they’re in stable living environments, they have balanced diets,” said Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, Founder and CEO of Bee Downtown.
Bonner founded Bee Downtown when she was a student at N.C. State. In 2015 two companies sponsored seven bee hives. By the end of this spring the group will have 100 hives supported by 50 companies.
“If we can work like a beehive as a community, we can collectively create a lasting change were we live and in the world we’re all proud to be a part of,” said Bonner.
“We like to treat Centennial Campus as a living lab, and this is an example and opportunity for us to do that,” said Leah Burton, Director of the Centennial Campus Partnership Office.
Hive supporters say the apiary is already serving as a teaching tool.
“Leigh-Kathryn’s offered for us to come down and learn about the bees. I think it’s one of those things, we’re a very family-oriented company, I could see us bringing kids as well,” said Kade Ross, an employee of Bandwidth, who sponsored the N.C. State apiary.
Lead beekeeper Justin Maness says honey bees are misunderstood. He hopes being around them in this setting will calm some common fears.
“They won’t sting you, but they’ll talk to you in a way that’s saying, ‘Hey like, what you’re doing, we’re not digging it. You need to calm down and check yourself right, before you wreck yourself,’” said Maness.
Bee Downtown will start collecting honey from the hives next year.