New beehives creating a sustainability buzz on GWCCA campus

Today the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) unveiled the organization’s first-ever beehives on our downtown Atlanta campus.

Located in the grassy pocket park on the southwest corner of Northside Drive and Boone Boulevard, three new hives were introduced to Authority team members and media amidst activities such as honey tastings, a do-it-yourself pollinator kit station, and an opportunity to meet the beekeepers from Bee Downtown, a North Carolina-based company focused on revitalizing bee populations in urban environments.

Photo by Ashley Gilmer, GWCCA Multimedia Specialist.

Each of the Authority’s three business units (Operations, Administration, and Commercial) were assigned a hive to be painted and decorated by team members from each of those areas, respectively (pictured above). The result is a colorful array of unique designs including an homage to some of the Authority’s long-standing partners and events, as well as a Beyonce-themed “Bey-hive.” Beyonce, if you’re reading this, please visit us between your two (Aug. 25-26) concerts at Mercedes-Benz Stadium!

Why bees, you ask? GWCCA’s long-term success depends on honey bees. They pollinate a third of the food we eat and serve, and they’re also responsible for pollinating many plants and flowers that keep Centennial Olympic Park and the rest of our campus looking bee-autiful. Fortunately, our organization recognizes this important nexus and is aiming to support a honey bee population that has been in decline for years.

Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, founder and CEO of Bee Downtown, explains the positive effects of the GWCCA’s beehives as the Authority’s Contract Purchasing Manager Bernard Canty listens intently. Photo by Ashley Gilmer, GWCCA Multimedia Specialist.

In addition to maintaining the hives, Bee Downtown will provide exclusive, one-of-a-kind leadership training opportunities through an introduction to beekeeping which will be made available to Authority team members and can be offered as an add-on to our hosted events and event managers. Once harvested, Bee Downtown will provide approximately 80 pounds of honey per hive to the Authority’s exclusive food service partner, Levy Restaurants, to be used in prepared food and to be bottled as gifts. To drum up some competition between the three business units, whichever team’s hive produces the most honey by next summer will win bragging rights and a prize.

David Armstrong, a truck driver for Frito-Lay, noticed the activity at the park Friday when he was making a nearby delivery and decided to check out the hives. “It’s exciting when you see new beehives going in anywhere,” said Armstrong, who is also a beekeeper with hives in Douglasville. He makes deliveries at the Exxon across the street from the park three times per week and promised to help keep an eye on the Authority’s hives.

Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, the founder and CEO of Bee Downtown, said the Authority’s beehives will positively affect 18,000 acres nearby in a three-mile radius, pollinating urban gardens in the area, neighborhood flora and school landscaping.

“These little bees have moments that matter all over the community every day,” said Bonner. “What are your moments that matter?”