DEARBORN, Mich., – This month Ford launches a global beekeeping program with six new honey bee hives at its Dearborn World Headquarters in support of honey bee populations, the local ecosystem, and gardening and farming communities.
“Sustainability is more than improving fuel economy and reducing waste,” says Kim Pittel, Ford group vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering. “It’s about improving the environment we live in for all, and that includes honey bees, pollinators and the ecosystems that depend on them.”
According to the nonprofit, Pollinator Partnership, honey bees are essential to the world’s food supply and are in dire need of help.
The six new hives will be situated inside a walking path extension north of Ford World Headquarters. Ford employees who initiated the program will serve as beekeepers managing the hives. This effort builds on Ford’s beekeeping initiative at the historic Rouge factory in 2016.
Adding a creative flourish to the installation, the Langstroth hives the bees reside in will be beautified by special hive shells imagined by Ford’s own designers, who participated in a unique competition to see who could come up with the most aesthetically pleasing and functional home for the bees.
Over a dozen design concepts were submitted, spanning a variety of formats and employing numerous materials ranging from wood, plant matter, acrylic, ceramics, mill foam, fiberglass and metal. In the end, the concept of Chris Westfall, a designer of vehicle interiors, was chosen for its overall benefits to colony health. Titled, “Honeycomb Sail,” the design features two sails that wrap around each beehive to provide a peaceful space away from the elements. The design takes cues from both bee wings and a thick drop of honey. One side allows for easy access by the beekeeper and the other entrance is sized just for the bees.
Ford beekeepers will provide data on the 360,000 total honey bees expected to inhabit all six hives as the colonies grow to their full potential of 60,000 bees per hive by the height of summer to the Sentinel Apiary Program, a collective of nearly 70 beekeepers from 26 states who track honey bee health and diseases nationally.