In 2015, the side lot next to The FruitGuys headquarters in South San Francisco was a gravelly, unused, weed-infested strip of land. Today it’s abuzz with activity, transformed into a cozy home for a colony of honeybees.
The project was the brainchild of The FruitGuys Garden Committee, which built several planter boxes and installed pollinator-friendly plants to support the colony. While the idea of fresh, raw honey is quite enticing, the rewards of beekeeping go beyond the culinary. Nature’s most efficient pollinators are essential to the existence of a large number of crops, including many of our favorite fruits and vegetables.
A 2012 study by Cornell University showed that honeybees pollinated about $12.4 billion worth of directly dependent crops (crops that require pollinators to produce fruit) and $6.8 billion worth of indirectly dependent crops (crops that require pollinators to create seeds) in 2010. According to the USDA, about 75 percent of the agricultural crops grown in the U.S. are pollinated by bees. In short, without bees, there’d be a lot less food on the table.
Knowing the myriad benefits of honeybees, FruitGuys Special Projects Lead, Erin Giordano, led the charge in finding the perfect garden-friendly pollinators. She reached out to the Best Bees Company, a full-service beekeeping company in Boston that serves major cities across the U.S., which sent beekeeper Conor Pickett to help prep the space for the eventual home of the FruitGuys’ bees.
The Garden Committee planted lavender, sweetbriar, ceanothus, white evening primrose, island mallow, abutilon, bee balm, cilantro, tomatoes, squash, peppers, and strawberries in the planter boxes that surround the hive. After San Francisco’s rainy winter (thank you, El Nino), an abundance of wild fennel (a favorite among honeybees) had also spread throughout the vicinity. The future tenants of the garden were now guaranteed a sufficient food source.
On May 3, Bay Area bee experts Christine Kurtz and Jason Berkman of the Sonoma County Beekeepers’ Association delivered the colony of 10,000 honeybees and gently helped the little pollinators get settled into their new home. Currently, the bees are getting to know the area. They were not available for comment.
The FruitGuys hopes to help these critters buzz their way through a long and successful life. If your business has an outdoor space, you too may be able to support a beehive.
Ryan Hurlow is the production/admin assistant for The FruitGuys.