With an eye to the future, Ford has begun building beehives as well as cars.
That’s because the world’s honeybee population, essential to the operation of the food chain, is in danger of breaking down.
Ford has launched a global beekeeping program with six new hives at its Dearborn headquarters in support of honeybee populations, the local ecosystem, plus gardening and farming communities.
“Sustainability is more than improving fuel economy and reducing waste,” Ford group vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering, Kim Pittel, said.
“It’s about improving the environment we live in for all, and that includes honeybees, pollinators and the ecosystems that depend on them.”
The six new hives will be situated inside a walking path extension north of headquarters, with workers who initiated the program to serve as beekeepers.
This effort builds on Ford’s beekeeping initiative at the historic Rouge factory in 2016.
Megan Milbrath with a frame of bees.
Beekeeper Mary Mason
Ford designers have created a special shell to to make the beehives more attractive.
Over a dozen design concepts were submitted, spanning a variety of formats and employing numerous materials ranging from wood, plant matter, acrylic, ceramics, mill foam, fiberglass and metal.
The winning concept by Chris Westfall, a designer of vehicle interiors, was chosen for its overall benefits to colony health.
The design features two sails that wrap around each beehive to provide a peaceful space away from the elements.
The design takes cues from both bee wings and a thick drop of honey.
One side allows for easy access by the beekeeper and the other entrance is sized just for the bees.
Ford beekeepers will collect data on the 360,000 total honeybees expected to inhabit all six hives as the colonies grow to their full potential of 60,000 bees per hive.
The data will be provided to the Sentinel Apiary Program, a collective of nearly 70 beekeepers from 26 states who track honeybee health and diseases nationally.
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