The apiary program has been closely monitored by both Repasky and Shertzer, along with a USDA biologist. Since its start, Pittsburgh International has seen a reduction in bee swarms on the airfield.
Other airports utilize beekeeping as an opportunity to educate the community on sustainability and the environment, explained Robert Thomson, who helps lead the apiary program at Indianapolis International Airport.
“The community now has a location to place colonies and learn beekeeping,” Thomson said, adding that the airport’s environmental habitat is also directly benefited by the pollinators.
A sign at one of the airport's nine apiaries warns visitors that honey bees will sting to defend their hives. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)
Maintaining the airport apiaries is a year-round activity and can demand 10-hour shifts, with Repasky visiting the hives up three times per week, and fewer visits during the winter when the bees are dormant. In addition to producing honey, the PIT apiaries are used for raising queen bees to be sold to other bee keepers, and collecting other products of the hive, including pollen.