WATCH: Victoria Harbour Air terminal buzzing as thousands of bees in roof-top hives help make it the greenest airport in the world. Tess van Straaten reports.
Float planes aren’t the only things flying around Victoria’s Harbour Air Terminal these days.
Thousands of honey bees are also buzzing about as Canada’s tenth busiest airport aims to be the greenest airport in the world.
“It’s unique, it’s another unique piece to Victoria and we’re very green here and very proud to be doing what we’re doing,” Harbour Air President Randy Wright said.
Harbour Air’s installed four-large hives on its one-acre green roof along with solar panels to celebrate the 10th anniversary of becoming North America’s first carbon-neutral airline.
Ten thousand honey bees now live in roof-top hives on the floating terminal and the colony is expected to grow to more than 200,000 pollinators.
“The bees can fly five kilometers throughout Greater Victoria and bees are important to the world and the ecosystem here in Victoria as we’re losing a lot of bees in North America,” Wright said. “We believe it’s the world’s first floating beehive.”
“We believe it’s the world’s first floating beehive.”
With bee populations declining by as much as a third in some areas, bee experts say urban colonies like this one play a pivotal role in making sure there are enough bees to pollinate plants.
“Harbour Air is making an important contribution to the Victoria ecosystem,” Bill Fosdick, president of the Capital Region Beekeepers Association, said. “Given that Harbour Air flies more than 450,000 passengers every year, this will also be an important way to educate people of all ages on the importance of honey bees to our local environment.”
“Given that Harbour Air flies more than 450,000 passengers every year, this will also be an important way to educate people of all ages on the importance of honey bees to our local environment.”
The Fairmont Empress and other Victoria hotels started the beehive trend and it’s creating quite the buzz in gardens and rooftops across the city.
“Just to see the activity, how they come alive when the warmth comes out and they get moving and going in and out of the hives and you can see how much population happens on top of the hives,” Harbour Air employee Mike Smith, who volunteered to help look after the bees, said.
Smith admits it’s an unusual task for an airline employee, but one he volunteered for and he’s even taking a special course to learn how to care for the honeybees.
And like the 50 solar panels recently installed on the roof to help power the terminal, the high-flying hives were a staff suggestion.
“We encourage staff to bring ideas forward and some of our younger staff thought it would be a great thing to do from a sustainability perspective,” Wright said.
A monitor in the terminal lounge will have a live bee cam and watch for Harbour Air honey to be served up in West Coast terminals soon, as this sweet success story takes flight.