b'ENVIRONMENTAL APA|MCO|PIT 57Alger notes that an on-site bee program can boost an airports sustainability portfolio and improve its reputation as an environmentally friendly organization and responsible land steward. I think the public is very aware of this whole save the bees movement for the honeybee, which is the iconic species of that movement, she remarks. Pollinator-friendly programs, whether through beekeeping or through creating habitat, help bolster the perspective that an airport is taking a positive role in pollinator conservation.Bee programs also create opportunities for educating the local community, she adds. Some of the airports she counsels host events to teach the public about pollinators in general, and especially bees. Managing the Hive Exposure on social media has helped elevate the profile of beesCentennial Airport hires beekeeper Joe Komperda on an annual and their keeperssome to near celebrity status. Erika Thompsoncontract basis.(@texasbeeworks on TikTok), a beekeeper from Austin, TX, has a whopping 11 million followers. Ask anyone if theyve seen the beeEventually, Repasky established 10 apiaries with 150 to 175 lady in Texas, and many will know exactly what you mean.colonies and millions of honeybees on site. This year, there has However, not everyone is a fan of Thompsons methods, whichonly been one swarm at PIT to date.often involve scooping bees with her bare hands and workingIn 2020, PIT received a Governors Award for Environmental without protective gear. While such videos may help promoteExcellence for its innovative apiaries. As far as Shertzer is the save the bees movement, Komperda worries that they alsoconcerned, the program is simply good policyit helps the encourage laypeople to handle bees. He stresses that beekeepingenvironment and helps prevent operational disruptions.is serious business, and improper interaction puts people and bees at risk. Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), in fact, created its apiary program as a strategic reaction after a large swarm of bees delayed a flight in August 2012. As they were loading the plane, a swarm of bees came across the airfield and landed on the aircraft, Ben Shertzer, the airports wildlife administrator, told a local news station. All of the ground crews stepped back from the aircraft and with the initial fear of stinging insects, nobody wanted to get around it.When Shertzer started searching for local beekeepers to provide on-call service, he found Steve Repasky, the owner of Meadow Sweet Apiaries and a certified master beekeeper. Repasky rushed out to the airport, scooped up the problematic bees in a special box and released them later in his own backyard. He estimates there were thousands of honeybees clinging to the wing of the Delta aircraft bound for LaGuardia. Amazingly, the flight was only delayed 20 minutes. To everyones surprise, the large swarm and PITs response made the national news. I didnt expect that at all, says Shertzer. For us, it was all about being a good steward and a good neighbor.After the 2012 episode, PIT started tracking incidents and discovered it was averaging 15 swarms a year. Shertzer promptly put the word out to airlines and ramp service providers that the airport had a professional beekeeper on call. All they had to do was contact Shertzer, and he would happily send Repasky out to relocate any errant bees. After the delayed flight, Shertzer and Repasky promptly began directing bees to apiaries outside the airports perimeter fence. AirportImprovement.comOctober 2022'