DEQ Staff Visit Bee Downtown’s Community Apiary at NCSU Centennial Campus

staff viewing bee hive
Friday, July 14, 2017 - 9:15am

DEQ staff from the Secretary’s office and from the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs joined Bee Downtown Founder and CEO Leigh-Kathryn Bonner last Wednesday for an up-close and hands-on tour of the company’s community apiary at NCSU Centennial Campus. 

Bonner, fourth generation beekeeper, said that she became interested in beekeeping after taking an introductory beekeeping course with the late Dr. John Ambrose at NC State University. “Honey bees do well in urban areas because there is a lot of plant diversity and natural forage,” says Bonner. The site at Centennial Campus is a great example of that diversity and the bees seem to be thriving. Bonner, an alumna of N.C. State, has used her education, interest and family knowledge to begin a start-up company that establishes and maintains working bee hives at businesses in urban areas. She hopes to partner with the university on honey bee research and to engage future beekeepers in North Carolina and beyond.

“It was an amazing opportunity for our department to learn more about honey bees and their importance to agriculture in our state,” said Lisa Tolley with DEQ’s environmental education program. “Our office often works with communities and schools interested in ways to help bees and other pollinators by creating native pollinator gardens and through education. Directly interacting with a hive was an amazing way to learn more about urban beekeeping and its importance to the honey bee population.”  

North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus is the site of Bee Downtown’s first community apiary which includes seven hives that can house up to 60,000 bees. The apiary is part of Bee Downtown’s growing efforts to help revive the dwindling honey bee population through urban beekeeping. Beyond supplying honey and other products, honeybees are important pollinators and are vital to the agricultural industry in North Carolina. Bee Downtown works directly with companies throughout Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill who are interested in sponsoring hives at their locations. 

In addition to their businesses partners, Bee Downtown has several community apiaries including the Centennial Campus site and a newer apiary at the North Carolina Museum of Art. These sites allow them to provide educational events and experiences for schools and the community while helping to stabilize our honey bee population. For more information about Bee Downtown visit their website.