Terminal Bee

The nation’s first beehive farm, located at O’Hare, is creating some buzz by providing ex-convicts jobs, increasing bee populations and keeping runways clear.
by | August 29, 2011 AT 4:00 PM

Creating jobs for ex-convicts, protecting a declining species and improving airplane safety are usually separate initiatives, but one project tackles all three. In May, Chicago's departments of Aviation and Family Support Services partnered with a nonprofit and a skincare manufacturer to open the nation's first apiary (otherwise known as a beehive farm) at an airport, reports the Daily Herald. The farm, located on the east side of O'Hare International Airport, houses 1.5 million bees in 23 hives. It's staffed by "carefully screened" former convicts who want to re-join the workforce but have had trouble doing so. The honey  produced will be used to create a variety of personal care products that the Department of Aviation is hoping to sell in airport kiosks soon. The project also helps to replenish the bee population, which has been in decline for a decade and are vital for pollinating one-third of the world's food. In addition, the hives and surrounding grassland keep birds away from the nearby runways, keeping them clear for airplanes.