Time has buzzed by – especially if you are a Cisco honeybee. Last year, we installed beehives near our Research Triangle Park campus, in partnership with Bee Downtown and the RTP Foundation, to support the growing pollinator population in North Carolina, advance honeybee education across the region, and contribute toward the largest pollinator corridor in the country. Along with 100,000+ honeybees, our install was complete with signage, fencing, and three hand-painted hive boxes. Since then, our bees have been busy settling into their new home, pollinating local flowers, and producing our first-ever crop of Cisco honey.
Why honeybees, and why now?
Honeybees provide pollinator services to North Carolina’s $78 billion agricultural economy. It is not just in North Carolina that honeybees are important – according to Greenpeace, up to one-third of all food produced globally is pollinator-dependent. Despite the important role that honeybees play in our lives and food systems, bee populations are increasingly at risk. Wild honeybee populations are threatened by insecticide use, parasites, and monoculture farming. Also, according to Greenpeace, the number of bee colonies per hectare in the U.S. has declined by 90 percent since 1962.
Here’s an update on what the bees have been up to over the last year:
Winter 2019-20: The Cisco bee colonies move into their new homes, mainly staying inside the hives during the cold period. They form a cluster, almost like a football huddle, to keep their queen bee warm in the middle. She must stay at a constant 96 degrees Fahrenheit to survive. Even if it is 30 degrees outside, the Cisco beehives produce enough heat to keep their queens warm! In late December and early January, the queens begin to lay eggs that will hatch in the spring.
Spring 2020: The eggs hatch and bees leave the hive in search of pollen sources, such as clover, redbud trees, and other early emerging plants. Spring also marks swarm season: a time when a colony may split in half and leave the original hive in search of a new one. The bees ball up on trees or branches to find a new forever home. This happened at our site in the spring! Bee Downtown beekeepers cut the branch the rogue honeybees collected on and placed them in a protected box to be safely relocated to a new hive. Check out all the wax they built up!
Summer 2020: The honey-making season is in full swing. The bees spend up to twelve hours a day flying, on average, two miles to collect nectar and pollen to turn into honey for the winter ahead. The hives fill with honey, and the queen lays eggs for the next generation of bees.
Fall 2020: The bees completed their foraging and honey making for the year, as flowers and trees stop blooming across the southeast. We harvested over 140 pounds of honey from our hives (leaving plenty for the bees to feast on over the winter). In preparation for the upcoming winter, the female bees kick the male bees (drones) out of the hive to reduce demand on their honey stores.
Winter 2020-21: The bees huddle back into formation for the cooler season in North Carolina. The honey collected during the fall was decanted into over 400 bottles to share with Cisco bee enthusiasts. Above, watch a video of Cisco’s honey harvest.
Spring 2021: The bees reemerge from the hive and the cycle begins again. During our annual Earth Aware celebration, Cisco will host three educational webinars for our staff to learn about bee biology, how bees support agriculture, and steps we can take to protect bees. Celebrate World Bee Day with us on May 20th by planting a native pollinator plant, buying locally-produced honey, or sharing information on the importance of bees and other pollinators in our ecosystems.
To learn more about environmental sustainability at Cisco, please visit our Environmental Sustainability website.
Thank you for your post in LinkedIn i am inspired. I really enthusiastic to do same beehive in my native place. Please give some ideas and advice
Thank you team
P.S. more people and big garden stores need to quit using pesticides!!! Use natural resources. Save our bees . Or we all die !
The Bee whisperers mom🐝🐝🐝
Hi Stanly! I encourage you to check out local beekeeping organizations. It will be easier to learn from someone in person as there are many tricks of the trade! If you are looking to start one at your company, I recommend speaking internally and looking for outside companies like Bee Downtown that can guide you through the process.
Great to see this coming from a Cisco US employees. Thanks for the blog and for the lovely videos, pictures.
Recently I learned how to capture, how to take care of their boxes, and finally how to harvest honey during the season. It is wonderful process and requires a lot of patience.
Save the Bees!!! Love everything about this. Well done, Cisco!
Very nice inciative, should run long time.
Love this!!! Are there plans to do this at our other sites?
Love those beautiful hives! What great artwork!
Fantastic. Super interesting. Congratulations for the initiative.
LOVE THIS initiative! We need more of this around the world!!
Such an awesome initiative!!
I really enjoyed reading about your beekeeping. I’m in the UK and keep bees too and so can relate to your experience. We have a cold snap at the moment with and it’s -1.7 outside with snow on the ground and I’ve been having to feed my bees as of late as it’s been too cold for them to forage. Hope warmer weather is around the corner. Keep up the good work and I like the painted hives.
Congratulations! And well done, Cisco and Cisco bees!
I simply love this project. A project that embraces 3 big pillars: Planet + Employees + Community
It would be nice to mirror it in other regions, protecting those pollinators species classified as more vulnerable in each location.
We also launched this initiative in Cisco Amsterdam some years ago and it had a deep social impact. There was a wide range of activities we did with employees, with children, inspiring young students, green areas planting in cooperation with the council town; honey harvested for Cisco canteen, honey-tasting sessions from the various harvests over the years; Honey auctions for funds raising; wax candle making for celebration days; free pollinator-friendly seeds kits for employees to take home; scientific research in cooperation with University, to mention a few. We also faced challenges and lost colonies, but we did not give up. In the end, that was the purpose of the project: to create awareness around honeybees and understand what’s happening to them.
The best part of all was when someone asks: “Hey but, what does Cisco have to do with bees?” Then, a big smile and feeling of deep gratitude for being in this company that allows such projects, overcomes you. And after that, your captivating Cisco bee storytelling begins. It’s simply, fascinating all that Cisco and Cisco employees can do.
Getting on the roof to visit our bees was my favorite “wellbeeing” moment of the week. It’s an experience everyone should live at least once. It’s like getting new glasses on, seeing life differently, seeing the planet differently, and understanding much better how everything works in sync. Even if you get stung, you will learn the wise lesson hidden behind that stung.
Thanks for this post and for the wonderful work you are doing.
I admire what you’re doing ! I’d like to be a bee keeper , it’s on my bucket list ❤️🐝🐝🐝🐝
If you desire to become a beekeeper, I would encourage you to seek out your local beekeeping association. If you are in North Carolina, google the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association and their website lists the county associations contact info.
Such an amazing initiative, thanks for sharing!
I love your beehives and the hands on approach. I have always wanted to use the green spaces around the Cisco office at Bedfont and have a few beehives installed. I have emailed the WPR team a few years ago, but I had no response .. May be I should explore a different route 🙂
Dear Miglena, Happy to get on a quick call with you!
Thanks Cecile, just on PTO from today, but will catch up when I am back 🙂 Thanks a lot, Miglena
There are bee hives at the Green Park office in UK, so it must be possible to do in UK.
We live in Western Australia (Perth) and all though we had a slow middle of our season the bees are in overdrive now with plenty of pollen and nectar .I use 10 frame WSP boxes and have BRED a number of queens docile and productive.we are lucky in that we have no varoa mite in australia.I hope it stays that way
LOVE this! Great video….thank you for sharing! 🙂
I have 4 hives in N Florida. Just yesterday spent some time with guests teaching about Bees. I’d recommend watching the movie about lives of bees in NOVA. It just tells things one can miss. I find it disgusting to go to a bug store and finding tons of poison. Trying to teach people natural ways of weed and inspect control.
Dear Karl, I totally agree…creating awareness about the importance of native planting and alternatives to pesticide use are key topics that we are driving alongside! Thank you for all you do, too!
This is amazing!!
So hard to find bees are flying around nowadays!!
Thanks for sharing – this is so cool!
Educate yourself please. The queen does not lay eggs in December and January that will hatch in the spring. The eggs hatch in 3 days.
They are enthusiastic, relax!! …… Definitely true that the cycle is short and the hive awaits a pollen source to begin raising brood in serious. But the 3 day from laying is only to emerge in the larval stage, proceeding to the pupa stage…so maybe around 21 days from laying to ready to work!, Eh? Promoting interest in such a fascinating social insect is to be encouraged. Try this link to get some additional insight: https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-science-of-bees/honey-bee-life-cycle
Is the honey available to order?
What a great video from start to finish! Thank you for taking care of the Cisco honey bees!
Thank you for this awesome contribution to the environment. Just a wonderful story!
This is such a wonderful initiative. Kudos to everyone involved- and thanks much for doing your bit to grow the bee population.
Wow, this is so great!
Put up bee swarm boxes around your apiary, 15 feet off the ground, with an internal volume of 1.5 cubic feet, and an entrance way for bees. A single drop of lemongrass can be used as an attractant.
Hi Cecile, very inspiring, will definitely dedicate one of my hives to Cisco style this year!
Cecile, I LOVE this!
You know, this makes me think…. we should think about setting up a series of pollinator gardens on campus to expand on the theme.
I would love to help with that, actually. We could think about working with the NC Botanical Garden on it, to make sure we’ve got lots of good native plants for native species that need help.
Yes – absolutely… The Green Team in RTP and I are trying to convince our Team responsible for the planting plan for the Campus Landscaping to bring in pollinator friendly and native plants… lets connect!
Thanks for sharing! We have had a swarm come to a tree by our back door the last two years! My grandfather was a beekeeper so I’ve been thinking about it more myself recently. The California wildfires certainly impacted the bee population on our property last year. I keep hoping we’ll get a bee ball back this year. I put up small bee houses I found at the nursery, but you may just get me to try beekeeping myself. I think we need to have a Cisco Bee Mascot with a Twitter account. 😉 Thanks for the inspiration and increasing the bee population in North Carolina.
That is so awesome. I have my own beehives in Germany.
Bees are so interesting and so important for our ecosystem.
Good luck and big fun 🙂
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