Capitol Broadcasting Company’s headquarters on Western Blvd is home to the latest in digital television, cutting edge technology, state-of-the-art antennae and the leading news reports, but on Friday, August 14, 2015, the campus literally had the biggest buzz in the Triangle. Four beehives containing 35,000 honey bees moved into their new home atop the WRAL news building.
It all started on the roof of American Tobacco, a division of CBC, in downtown Durham. ATC intern Leigh Kathryn Bonner had a dream to bring awareness to the drastic worldwide decline of the honey bee population while assisting in sustainability by providing hives in cities, where bees thrive due to the availability of diverse food sources. Her idea became a start-up, Bee Downtown, housed in American Underground. She started with hives on the roof of American Tobacco. CBC marks her expansion into Raleigh.
“The installation on the roof Friday was wonderful!” said Bonner. “Not only did we have beekeepers from across North Carolina helping with the install, we also had some amazing volunteers from the community out to help move all the boxes and equipment up on the rooftop. Throughout the install we had CBC employees from all different divisions up on the roof observing and even helping out at times! We now have 4 rooftop hives (each representing a different division of the company) and one hive that will remain empty that is on display in the gardens for the community to see!”
The move-in was particularly special for Bonner because her grandfather came to help her and her uncle install the hives on the CBC roof – three generations of beekeepers working together. Corporate Property Management Manager Tim Grissom worked closely with Bonner and her team in organizing the move on CBC’s end.
“CBC is the perfect place to roll out Bee Downtown’s expansion into Raleigh because the CBC grounds team has gone above and ‘bee’-yond to make the campus gardens bee friendly,” said Bonner. “Tim and his team have really made the grounds the perfect place for the pollinators to have lots of food and stay happy and healthy while foraging. While the bees will love the WRAL garden they will also fly up to three miles away from the hive. They will have great areas to forage through NC State, Pullen and Dorothea Dix as well. Recent studies show that honey bees are healthier in urban areas. So we cannot wait to see how the hives at CBC do!”
Several CBC’ers took to the roof to observe the process, providing reports for WRAL-TV viewers and social media.
WRAL-TV News Photographer Andrew Cumbee manned the video camera on the roof to capture WRAL-TV Anchor Renee Chou sharing the hive move-in for WRAL newscasts. He has a connection that made the assignment especially fun for him.
“My takeaway from the new additions to the CBC family is one of pure excitement,” said Cumbee of the hives. “It brought back many memories of when I grew up in Eastern NC (Red Oak, NC) on a farm that had five hives. I can remember going to the mountains with my family and driving 5 hours back home with honey bees buzzing in my ear. It gave me a responsibility as a kid to learn about what they do and how to take care of them. Seeing all the equipment, such as the sugar water and smoke cans, brought back a lot of wonderful memories of bee keeping as a kid and I know the ones on campus will not only produce wonderful honey, but make the gardens that much prettier! It was an honor to take part of a new era at CBC!!”
FOX 50 Creative Services Producer Glenn Dion took a camera up on the roof to capture some still shots.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Dion. “Bees were flying everywhere, but didn’t even seem to notice us. And we got to taste honey directly from the FOX 50 hive; it was delicious. Really a unique shooting experience.”
Four hives with honey bees now reside on the roof of the building housing WRAL’s newsroom, as well as offices for FOX 50 and CBC New Media. The WRAL antenna, the one we light up for the holidays, stands guard above the hives. SKY 5 takes off and lands on the opposite roof, of the building housing CBC’s corporate offices and television and digital media sales offices.
Bee Downtown placed a fifth empty hive in the WRAL Gardens, so visitors can see up close what a hive looks like without having to worry about bee stings. Honey bees normally sting only to protect the hive. The rooftop location of CBC’s hives makes it highly unlikely anyone on the campus will be stung.
Stay tuned to Capcom for video of the installation…
Thanks to Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, WRAL-TV’s Steve Hammel, WRAL-TV’s Andrew Cumbee, and WRAL.com for these capcom photos.