What’s the buzz about honeybees at Ford?
You read that correctly! There are honeybees at Ford’s Rouge Complex! This is just one small step in the right direction for increasing the honeybee population.
Over the last three decades, there has been a dramatic decline in the honeybee population in the United States. One courageous Ford employee, Mary Mason, has taken the charge of caring for 80,000 honeybees. This is hanks to Mason and the company’s wildlife habitat strategy. Over the last fifteen years, this strategy had brought nature back to a once gray and black facility.
It all began
in the early 2000s as a part of Ford’s Heritage 2000 environmental program. The entire facility was given a “green” makeover. Grass, crab-apple trees and other plants were planted. Someone then suggested the addition of honeybees in order to combat their declining numbers.
“We had the crab-apple trees and thought when they flowered, the bees could pollinate them,” said Roger Gaudette, director, Dearborn campus transformation. “Bees are relatively easy to manage, so they were a perfect fit. We installed the hives in 2003, and even distributed the honey to company board members for the first few years.”
The crab-apple orchard is now home to approximately 80,000 honeybees, some of which were brought in by Mason from her own hive. She’s served as a volunteer beekeeper for the last three years.
According to government figures,
honeybees have been on the decline for more than three decades in the United States. Colony collapse disorder, parasites, pests, pathogens, poor nutrition and pesticides are thought to be the cause. This could have a big impact on crops.
Mason cares for the bees as if they were her pets. She checks in on them during lunch breaks and on the weekends, to make sure they’re active and moving in and out of the hives.
Mason says she couldn’t have picked a better place than the Rouge Plant to house her bees. Their hives are part of the Rouge Plant tour, so every day kids are being taught about the significance of bees.
Aside from the bees at the Rouge plant,
Ford rescued tens of thousands of other honeybees this summer. Officials at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake called in a beekeeper to remove about 10,000 bees and at the old St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Canada, thousands more were rescued.
“Bees are important for the crops, they’re important for nature,” says Mason. “They are crying out for help, and it’s up to us to help them and help the environment. It’s critical.”