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Indianapolis Airport Authority supports rapidly diminishing honey bees and helps boost food security

IAA is opening a honey bee apiary, increasing sustainable growth initiatives at IND

INDIANAPOLIS – Our nation’s honey bees are dying and these pollinators are crucial to keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets. Experts say the bees add $15 billion a year to the U.S. economy, helping provide food security. The Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) is supporting honey bee preservation by opening the Indianapolis Airport Community Apiary, a “bee yard” for bee hives. It’s a new partnership with the White Lick Beekeepers Association.

The Indianapolis International Airport (IND) sits on more than 9,000 acres of land with almost 2,000 acres dedicated to protected habitat land. The new apiary will benefit the local environment, increase the honey bee population and offer educational field days for the community and training for beekeepers.

“The Indianapolis Airport Authority is committed to supporting sustainability efforts in Central Indiana, using airport land to help preserve our natural resources,” said Mario Rodriguez, IAA’s executive director. “We have a responsibility to add to the environmental health of Central Indiana because this is our community’s airport.” Other IND sustainability efforts include supporting the largest airport-based solar farm in the world. IND was also the first airport in the U.S. to win LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for an entire terminal campus. And, it was named one of America’s greenest airports by Urbanful, a magazine that celebrates evolving cities.

“We are thrilled to partner with the White Lick Beekeepers Association for our newest sustainability effort and increase our environmental footprint,” said Robert Thomson, IAA senior director of finance who is helping lead the apiary project. “This is a very unique opportunity to preserve honey bees, as many struggle to survive pesticides, parasites, and a lack of food sources. And, saving pollinators helps keep food supply high and prices low, so it’s an economic benefit for the community.”

The new apiary will be established and honey bee colonies installed on the IND property later this spring.

Here is what IAA’s partners are saying:

“Having this apiary will give us a place to conduct hands-on training for new beekeepers and educate the public on honey bees and other pollinators,” said Mike Seib, the President of the White Lick Beekeepers Association. “Having more pollinators in the area will increase the vitality of the surrounding conservation area and I can’t thank the IAA enough for giving us the opportunity to do this.”

“This is an important step in the right direction for Indiana beekeeping due to all the problems that beekeepers and honey bees have faced since Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Varroa Mites,” said David Shenefield, the President of the Indiana Beekeepers Association. “The Indianapolis Airport Authority is providing access to land for honey bees in a safe, pollinator-friendly environment, which plays an important role in improving honey bee health.”

“The Indianapolis Airport Authority is way ahead of the curve here and this is a novel endeavor for an airport to undertake. This will be a very positive collaboration between the airport and the local community, and will benefit beekeepers, the community and the environment,” said Dr. Gregory Hunt, a Honey Bee Specialist and Professor at Purdue University.

“The Indiana State Beekeeping Association is very excited about this project and the partnering of the Indianapolis Airport Authority with the White Lick Beekeeping Club. The ability for clubs to have areas where they can go and set hives, and continue to educate people on the skills of beekeeping, helps ensure that we continue to have the ability to feed ourselves and the world,” said Jeff Dittemore, President of the Indiana State Beekeeper’s Association.

Visit this link to learn about the White Lick Beekeepers Association which will manage the Indianapolis Airport Community Apiary: http://www.whitelickbeekeepers.org/index.html.

About the Indianapolis Airport Authority

The Indianapolis Airport Authority owns and operates Indiana’s largest airport system. In addition to the Indianapolis International Airport, its facilities include the Downtown Heliport, Eagle Creek Airpark, Hendricks County Airport, Indianapolis Regional Airport and Metropolitan Airport. IND has received numerous prestigious awards recognizing it as a leader within its class, including best airport in North America in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in Airports Council International’s annual Airport Service Quality awards. IND is the first airport in the U.S. to win LEED® certification for an entire terminal campus, and it has won additional recognition for excellent customer service, concessions programs, and art and architecture.

IND generates an annual economic impact in Central Indiana of more than $4.5 billion without relying on state or local taxes to fund its operations. About 10,000 people work at the airport each day. IND serves more than 7 million business and leisure travelers each year and averages 140 daily flights to 39 nonstop destinations. Home of the world's second- largest FedEx Express operation and the nation’s eighth-largest cargo facility, IND is committed to becoming the airport system of choice for both passenger and cargo service. For more information, visit IND’s Facebook page at Indianapolis International Airport and Twitter page at @INDairport.