News Feature | July 14, 2017

DC Water Invests In A New Asset: Bees

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

bee reg new.jpg

North America’s largest wastewater treatment plant is covered in bees.

DC Water’s Blue Plains campus is home to a collection of beehives, known as an apiary. The forward-thinking utility jumped into the beekeeping game as part of a sustainability project.

“The rooftop apiary on the utility’s 140-acre campus is part of an experiment to see whether bees can thrive in such an unconventional setting. The hope is that if it works here, it can work at thousands of similar facilities across the United States,” The Washington Post reported.

A blog post on the DC Water website described the effort: “Today, there are 4 healthy and full hives on the roof of a building we call the Central Maintenance Facility. They are cared for through a clever relationship DC Water set up with the DC Beekeepers Alliance, in which the bees live here but beekeepers from off-site come check on them periodically.”

The partnership solves a problem for bees, who struggle to survive in urban areas. The water utility campus, with its location on the Potomac River, is hospitable.

Two DC Water officials “hit on the idea of opening an apiary about three years ago. The pair thought it would be a way to build links with the urban agriculture community, promote their goal of a more sustainable campus and help bees,” the report said.

“They reached out to the DC Beekeepers Alliance, a local resource for apiarists in the region. And soon ... they were in the bee business,” the report said.

DC Water spokesman Vincent Morris told WTOP that “there’s lots of pollen nearby and [the bees] have a safe environment here.”

The bees at the DC Water apiary produced 150 pounds of honey last year, according to WTOP.

Image credit: "Bee," Colin J © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/