Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. Friday announced it will launch a global beekeeping program this month with six new honeybee hives at its Dearborn headquarters. The program is designed to support honeybee 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 honeybees, pollinators, and the ecosystems that depend on them.”
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. The effort builds on Ford’s beekeeping initiative at the historic Rouge factory in 2016, which introduced 80,000 bees to the facility’s grounds.
The Langstroth hives the bees will reside in are special hive shells created by Ford’s designers, who participated in a competition to see who could come up with the most aesthetically pleasing and functional home for the bees.
More than a dozen design concepts were submitted. A design by Chris Westfall, a designer of vehicle interiors, was chosen for its overall benefits to colony health. The design is called Honeycomb Sail and features two sails that wrap around each beehive to provide shelter from the elements. The design takes cues form bee wings and a thick drop of honey. One side allows access by the beekeeper, and the other is sized for the bees.
Ford beekeepers will provide data on the 360,000 total honeybees expected to inhabit all six hives to the Sentinel Apiary Program, a collective of nearly 70 beekeepers from 26 states who track honeybee health and diseases nationally. The colonies are expected to grow to their full potential of 60,000 bees per hive by the height of summer.
According to Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit, honeybees are essential to the world’s food supply, and honeybee numbers are declining.