RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – It’s being described as a “highway of honeybees” – more than 150 beehives amounting to some 9.5 million honeybees stretching from Durham to Garner.
And Bee Downtown’s CEO and founder Leigh-Kathryn Bonner says it will become the “longest strategically connected healthy honeybee corridor” in the nation with the addition of hives at MetLife’s corporate campus.
“MetLife’s Cary campus was our missing link in the final connection point between the Research Triangle Park and Raleigh,” said Bonner, who has spent the past few years installing beehives on corporate campuses across the state and in Atlanta.
“We are thrilled to have them join the Bee Team.”
On Monday, she and her team will officially connect more than 60 miles of honeybee-pollinated space, setting up three beehives on the insurance company’s headquarters.
“As more and more companies join the Bee Downtown program, the three-mile radius the bees from each hive fly begin to overlap, creating a connected line throughout the city,” the company said in its release.
It’s all part of an effort to make a dent in the dangerous global decline of bees. These days, bees are increasingly coming under threat by pests, decrease in habitat, lack of nutrition and a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.
The United States lost 40 percent of its honeybees in 2018 alone, according to the Bee Informed Partnership’s yearly survey.
It’s a startling statistic considering that every third bite of food humans consume comes as a result of honeybee pollination.
Back in 2015, fresh out of NC State, Bonner launched Bee Downtown to make “a small difference.”
Based out of Durham’s American Underground, the startup hit $1 million in recurring revenue earlier this year, and has more than 50 corporate sponsors. It also offers leadership development classes.
It also plans to add another six new corporate partners between North Carolina and Atlanta this fall: Accesso ( with two locations in Meridian Parkway in Durham and Platinum Tower in Atlanta), International Farming Corporation , ZenBio and Madison Marquette (in Crown Pointe in Atlanta).
Most recently, the company made it into the national spotlight after landing on an Invesco QQQ commercial for the CNN network.
Bonner said she has no plans to slow down anytime soon, and credits her hometown for part of her success.
“The Triangle’s corporate commitment to the environment, agriculture, and creating a great place for employees to work is truly inspiring. We are proud to call North Carolina home.”