Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina is Cisco’s second largest campus in the U.S. after our headquarters in San Jose, California. RTP is a growing campus in a regional innovation hub, surrounded by leading research universities and clean technology ventures. This makes RTP an excellent place to find solutions for sustainability challenges.
With these advantages in mind, we are excited to announce that Cisco has signed an agreement with Bee Downtown to install and maintain three honeybee hives on land adjacent to our RTP campus. Our “Connected Bees” will support the growing pollinator population in North Carolina, advance honeybee education across the region and contribute toward the largest pollinator corridor in the country. Supporting bee populations is aligned with Cisco’s comprehensive sustainability strategy for the RTP campus, which began over a year ago with our goals to achieve 100 percent renewable energy, water neutrality, and zero waste at RTP. We plan to host employee tours and honey sampling events in the spring of 2020.
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. With Cisco’s commitment to solving hunger and protecting endangered species worldwide, the time to protect honeybees is now.
Cecile Willems, Marketing Director at Cisco and Jordan Hart-White, Energy and Sustainability Manager, both based in RTP campus were instrumental in bringing Connected Bees to RTP. Cecile moved to RTP in 2012 from Germany and immediately began making her yard bee-friendly and sponsoring a beehive at a
local garden supply store. Her passion continued to grow, and in 2018 she formed a bee interest group at Cisco’s campus in RTP with a goal to support local honey bee populations. Willems says, “I am so glad that we are able to sponsor beehives in Research Triangle Park. Bees play a vital role in the health of our food systems and environment, and I am excited that our employees will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about these amazing creatures through this program.”
Hart-White explained that Cisco’s sustainability strategy for our outdoor spaces doesn’t stop with Connected Bees. “We are incorporating native plants such as grasses and flowering shrubs into our campus landscaping. Native landscaping reduces the water and chemicals needed to maintain grass lawns, which directly contributes to our campus goals. Through these changes, we hope to give our campus a distinctly North Carolina look while providing a better home for native pollinators, especially our state insect, the honeybee!”
Cisco is committed to solving global problems such as hunger and protecting endangered species – and part of the solution is protecting honeybees. To read more about Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, visit https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/about/csr.html.
Can you state where these will be located? What about people that are highly allergic to bees?
I would also like more details on the physical location. I have a severe allergy to bee stings as well.
@Sharon, that’s answered on the Communities page link in the email.
Where are the hives located?
The hives are located by the lake behind building 5. A map of the actual location is below with the yellow star over the exact hive location.
Thanks @Jim. @Sharon and @Anonymous, the bees are located off of Cisco property so you will not come in contact with the bees unless you walk into their fenced area.
I would be very interested in learning about how (or if) Bee Downtown will be actively managing the hives. Hive Beetles and Varroa mites are major pests of bee colonies. Without active management, the colonies will collapse, bringing more of these pests into the area, affecting local beekeepers. How will Bee Downtown handle annual swarming? Will they be actively splitting the hives as needed? Will they catch the swarms and introduce them into new hives? There is much more to responsibly keeping bees, than dropping down a few hives. If there won’t be proper management, I would suggest Mason bees instead. They are far more effective pollinators, don’t have the issues with Hive Beetles or Varroa mites, and do not require anywhere near the level of management that honeybees require (and deserve).
Hi Dave! Thanks for your comment and interest. Bee Downtown has a team of professional beekeepers who will be actively managing these hives for Cisco. I recommend you check out their website https://www.bee-downtown.com/ for details. If you still have questions, feel free to reach out to them directly.
I did check out their website, before I penned the concerns above, and again since. There is no information there about their hive management practices, only names of team members (and no information about which team members are managing the Cisco hives.) Given how important this is–it is THE most important aspect of Bee “Keeping” vs. Bee “Having”–I was very surprised to find exactly…nothing. Perhaps I missed a link somewhere? I would expect that Cisco has looked into this, given that they have committed to a three year contract. Perhaps you can point us to a link with that information?
Hi Dave, please send an email to the contact mailer you received in the site communication. We will be happy to set up some time to go over your specific questions.
I have contacted an area Master Beekeeper (Randall Austin), who pointed me to an interview he did with a beekeeper from Bee Downtown (no longer with them, but was at the time). Mr. Austin published that interview as one of his articles in the Educational Resources part of Bailey Bee Supply’s website. I’m not sure if I can post that link here, but you can easily find it. In the interview, the Bee Downtown beekeeper mentioned some of his tasks: making lists of apiaries, and tasks for each of them through the seasons; storing data for each hive; monitoring for Varroa mites; making splits; managing swarms, etc. This information gives me confidence that Cisco’s hives will be properly managed and not fall into neglect. Thank you.
Sorry, I forgot to enter my name in the comment beginning with “I have contacted an area Master Bookeeper…” (Dave)
Wow, what an innovative and unique idea! I never would’ve thought how supporting a few hives could drive our sustainability missions forward. Will we ever be able to purchase honey from our bees? Maybe the proceeds could go back to Bee Downtown or a similar org.
Hi Amanda! Thank you for your comment. The team is actively planning out how to best utilize the honey from the hives. If you are a Cisco employee, join the Webex Teams room or the mailer shared in the email to the campus today to stay up to date on everything bee-related!
This is really a great initiative. Also in Germany it’s important to care for the honey bees that the population will remain. This affects our ecosystem and more. Congratulations to Cisco employees at RTP. @Cecile, I love the picture, would like to join a tour! May be you can share a video for a virtual tour far far away from North Carolina : )
Great to see that this amazing project expands!
Can’t wait to see Cisco bees in San Jose 😉
If you want bees at the San Jose office, check out HiveMinded! https://beehiveminded.com/
This is so cool!
This is a fabulous article!!! Way to go Cecile and Jordon!!! Love the bee’s and native plants! Cisco rocks!
I love this initiative! This is really inspiring. Let’s try to replicate this in other locations as well.
I wish we could do the same in Argentina
Suits are too clean.. 🙂 Never trust a beekeeper with a clean suit (they are too new to beekeeping 😉 )
I have 30 hives of my own. If I was closer to Richardson I would hit them up, we are putting bees on Embassy
Suites hotel roofs in the north Dallas area.
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