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Buzzin with corporate sustainability

Jane Cozens Jane Cozens
Jane Cozens
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The Bandwidth bees hard at work

This 2022 Earth Day, Bee Downtown and Bandwidth reflect on their 5-year partnership on promoting urban agriculture in the local community🌱

What do you remember about your first internship? Grabbing coffee orders or spending time in a bee apiary bonding with your local pollinators and team members? Bandwidth’s five-year collaboration with Bee Downtown has interwoven work culture with corporate sustainability. So this Earth Day, we reminisce on the bee-autiful impact we made for the bees, the community, and our Bandmates!

Let’s start at the very bee-ginning

What is Bee Downtown?

Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, Founder, and CEO of Bee Downtown
Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, Founder, and CEO of Bee Downtown

Bee Downtown brings companies and bees together, promoting employee engagement, sustainability, and positive work culture (along with some yummy local honey!). 

Leigh-Kathryn Bonner was a senior at NC State University and a fourth-generation beekeeper.  And after taking Intro to Bees at NC State, she was on a mission to bring beehives to urban settings. After her landlord denied her request to keep a beehive in her apartment (the nerve!), she asked her company in downtown Durham, who welcomed the opportunity to get involved with local agriculture.  And the rest is history. 

Since it began, Bee Downtown has grown from 50 beehives to almost 500 beehives across the southwest, has 15 full-time employees, and offers their corporate partners’ hive tours, honey tastings, and personalized events with the bees.

The Bandwidth Apiary: an un-bee-lievable partnership

The Bandwidth crew enjoying some locally made honey from the apiary

So, how did a Bandwidth apiary come about? In 2016, Bandwidth’s CEO, David Morken, met Kathryn at a local leadership conference and was inspired by Bee Downtown’s mission to grow the local bee population.

We found a spot where the Bandwidth bees could thrive, nearby on NC State’s Centennial campus. Today our apiary is accessible for Bandwidth employees, NC state students, and the community. Anyone can come, learn, and experience a bee colony up close and personal. 

Since our collaboration, we’ve offered our employees and interns beekeeping lessons, lunch-and-learn opportunities at the apiary, and invested countless hours in sustainable living.

The Corporate Hive Program + Bandwidth interns = ‘the bee’s knees🐝

What is Bee Downtown’s Corporate Hive Program?

Dedicated, hardworking, and cooperative. Words describing our bees and our team!  Bee Downtown uses the hive as a clever metaphor to create corporate programming.

Scottie Mclead, Area Manager for Bee Downtown
“We talk about how the bees work together as a team. They inherently trust each other. It’s almost like a democracy; they all can technically voice their opinions and butt heads when sharing their views. And then they all basically unanimously come together, decide, and move forward as a hive.” – Scottie Mclead, Area Manager for Bee Downtown

By creating engaging experiences between employees and the beehive, people can take the skills learned from the colony and apply them to their job roles in the workplace. 

Interning with the Bandwidth Bees

Bandwidth interns during the 2021 hive tour
“All the interns get to be together. It’s like a team-building experience for them to come and learn about the bees, see what Bandwidth is involved in and doing.”

Every summer, 30-40 Bandwidth interns experience The Bandwidth/Bee Downtown hive tour, where they get to assist in a few aspects of beekeeping. First, the interns get to suit up and tour the beehives for two and a half hours. Then, two groups take turns using the smoker and hive tool, learning bee maintenance, and taking home some delicious local honey.

Check out some pics from 2021’s hive tour!

Bandwidth bee-lieves in sustainability ♻️

Recruiting more drones for the new campus

Bandwidth employee checking out the smallest members of our BAND.
Bandwidth employee checking out the smallest members of our BAND.

As we grow as a company, so will our beehives. When Bandwidth moves into our new headquarters, we plan to increase our partnership with Bee Downtown. Our goal is to install more beehives and offer more programs to educate the Bandwidth community. The bees have become interwoven in our work culture, and we are thrilled to support our local pollination efforts!

Helping all pollinators

The Bandwidth Apiary

Thanks to the guidance of Bee Downtown, Bandwidth can make more eco-friendly decisions to help support our local ecosystem. For example, they advise on what trees and plants we should be growing on-site,  and recommendations on non-toxic chemicals to spray. As a result, our bee friends can thrive in the habitat we’ve created for them.

Facts to bee aware of this Earth Day 🌻

Our Bee Downtown expert Scottie McLeod reviews some fun facts on one of nature’s best pollinators.

Scottie Mcleod reppin the Bee Downtown merch

One honeybee has twelve hundred pollinator events in a single day.

“You might not notice every single little bee on a flower, but it’s impossible not to notice the flourishing blossoming plants around you and the trees that are coming to life right now. That’s because of the bees.”

A whole colony can produce 50-60 pounds of honey from April through June.

“A five-ounce jar of honey has thousands of bees’ lives work in it.”

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 70 of the top 100 food crops.

“Without them, we would not have as much food as we do, or it would be a lot more expensive. So there are other pollinators, but honeybees are the best at it. So that’s why we use them for our agricultural processes.”

Bee-mindful this Earth Day 🌏

Whether you’re an intern or employee at Bandwidth or someone who wants a better relationship with local pollinators, you can educate yourself on learning more about native bees, spending more time outside, or respecting nature in everyday life.  

Want to continue learning? Check out some of these great resources on sustainability: 

Remember to bee-kind to our earth, today and every day!

(Big thanks to Scottie Mcleod for taking the time to speak with us and Bee Downtown for all the great work you do!)