The Embassy’s new hives
The population of Embassy workers has just shot up from 260 to 200,260 thanks to the addition of new wings—so to speak. In late August, two new beehives were installed on Embassy grounds in Washington, D.C. as part of the “Green Embassy” project.
Since 2009, the Embassy has committed to improving sustainability. Until now, efforts have primarily included policies and renovations to reduce energy consumption by both staff and the building. The addition of the beehives, which will be kept by local beekeepers Eco Honeybees, brings a new focus on biodiversity to the Green Embassy agenda.
The bees will do more than help pollinate plants in the area and provide honey to the Embassy. “The hives are a tool that allow us to communicate about the fact that bees are endangered” according to Embassy intern Michel Li, who worked closely on the project. Pesticides and parasites have threatened U.S. bee populations in recent years, causing several species to be added to the U.S. Fishing & Wildlife Service list of endangered species for the first time.
“An overwhelming percentage of what we eat requires something to pollinate it” explains Larry Marling, one half of Eco Honeybees’ husband and wife team. “Honeybees are pollinators we can control and monitor, unlike bumblebees and butterflies.” Though he started beekeeping because he found it relaxing to watch the hives, the business has become “more of a quest, to show people how much they’re needed.”
The Embassy joins a growing community of urban beekepers in Washington D.C. Eco Honeybees care for approximately 100 hives around the city, with clients ranging from individual homeowners to hotels and country clubs. Though there are 300 registered hives in D.C., the DC Beekeepers Alliance estimates up to 500 hives in the D.C. area, and they train 50 aspiring beekeepers each year.