After more than half a year of planning, preparing and organizing, four colonies of honey bees arrived at the George R. Brown at the end of September. Their new home is the Rusk balcony (that's the one closest to the North end of the building). The effort is part of an education and sustainability project and it's a pretty big deal.
Dedication to sustainability and wanting to take a green approach inspired Levy Convention Centers to bring the bee idea to Houston First who operates the Convention Center. The honey harvested from the hives will find its way into the GRB’s signature menu items, including the avocado-honey and lime vinaigrette and as a component of artisan cheese displays. The hives' beeswax will be used to make products like lip balms. Visitors to the convention center will get an up-close look at the bees through the windows to the balcony.
Houston First and Levy Convention Centers are working in partnership with Harris County Beekeepers Association and Juliana Rangel, who has a doctorate in neurobiology and behavior and is an assistant professor of apiculture at Texas A&M University.
"The George R. Brown Convention Center seeks to give all of our guests a true sense of what makes Houston great, and a big part of that is providing a true local experience," said Luther Villagomez, chief operating officer of Houston First Corporation. "When it comes to providing local ingredients, nothing could be truer to that mission than food produced on our own balcony, and we’re excited to have our guests see our new garden up close and share in our dedication to sustainability."
Take a look at the GRBees fact sheet below.
Bees? What if they attack?
Honey bees are not aggressive. They are more interested in pollenating plants than planting a stinger in you. Other convention centers have tried this type of project with success. The GRB joins those forward-thinking centers in creating a safe haven for bees and a more sustainable environment.
Bees? Meh, who cares about saving bees?
If you like to eat, you should appreciate the work honey bees do. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bees pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops, which constitute one-third of everything we eat. Losing them could affect not only dietary staples such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers, but may threaten our beef and dairy industries if alfalfa is not available for feed. One Cornell University study estimated that honey bees annually pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S.
In other words, if honey bees disappear, we probably do too.