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Honeybees at U.S. courthouse in Hammond part of federal pollinator initiative

Two men pose for a picture standing outside of a black cage. Inside, two people complete the installation of a beehive that sits on mulch inside the enclosure.
U.S. General Services Administration
Property Manager Josh Westhouse and Supervisory Property Manager Rich Falzone stand outside the new bee hive enclosure as workers complete installation at the U.S. Courthouse in Hammond.

The U.S. Courthouse in Hammond is one of just five properties hosting honeybees through a federal pollinator initiative. The initiative through the General Services Administration aims to find out how to best create and maintain pollinator habitats at federal buildings and elsewhere.

Paige Mulhern is the creative director with The Best Bees Company — which was hired to manage the hives. She said the company analyzed the DNA in the honey to find out what plants the bees are foraging on.

Mulhern said the bees that are doing well seem to be pollinating a wide variety of plants — which could help the company give recommendations at other GSA sites.

“Maybe the foraging habitat revealed in the honey doesn't show enough diversity of flora and fauna. We can say based off these results, we recommend that you work with your landscaping team or other professionals in your community to add more flowers to the site," she said.

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The GSA said data shows the bees are also pollinating local crops in the area. It’s estimated that honeybees contribute more than $20 billion to the national economy each year.

The federal pollinator initiative that started last year originally included 11 sites, but six of them are no longer hosting hives. One of those hives didn’t survive the winter.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.