Photo: Getty Images
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced its new Pollinator Initiative that supports the federal government’s commitment to protect pollinators, including in Portland, Ore. Saving bees and other pollinators from the risks they face is an important part of a sustainable future because they are critical to agriculture and food production – contributing to the national economy by more than $20 billion each year. This is just the latest step in GSA’s agency-wide commitment to advancing sustainability and confronting climate change.
GSA has established policies and practices to support pollinator habitats through the design, construction, and maintenance of federal properties nationwide. In support of these efforts, GSA has installed honeybee hives at 11 GSA facilities across the country as part of a yearlong pilot.
As a part of the initiative, two hives, housing approximately 40,000 honey bees, were placed on the roof of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in May. The property has already proved to be a welcoming environment for bees; a small hive of local mason bees was installed in the atrium in 2019.
The project seeks to enable GSA to lead by example and to create a more efficient and effective design policy that can be modeled by other federal agency partners, builders, and property managers.
“By using data-producing honey bee hives at GSA-controlled facilities to help inform updates to these directives and policies, we can promote sustainability and enhance urban habitats,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “I look forward to how this pilot can uncover new strategies to help promote the health of our local pollinators and to set the foundation for other GSA facilities to expand placement locations and integrate into their sustainability efforts.”
GSA’s Center for Urban Development is managing the pilot program through its Good Neighbor Program with a contract awarded to The Best Bees Company, a major U.S. beekeeping service. Best Bees Company will maintain the hives over the course of a year, analyze honey production from each hive, and identify the plants and landscapes that are specifically beneficial to local pollinators. This information is expected to help guide GSA’s future pollinator-friendly landscape design and maintenance policies and practices.