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Port partnership with Olympia Beekeepers Association produces first batch of the ‘sweet stuff’

Working with the Port of Olympia, the Olympia Beekeepers Association, has just produced its first batch of honey (66 jars) from beehives located at the airport.
Working with the Port of Olympia, the Olympia Beekeepers Association, has just produced its first batch of honey (66 jars) from beehives located at the airport. sbloom@theolympian.com

The Port of Olympia is best known for its marine terminal, airport and Swantown Marina.

And now you can add honey to that list after a partnership that began in 2015 produced 66 jars of the “sweet stuff” in September.

Half of those jars of honey were auctioned off on Thursday (Dec. 8) as part of a port staff charity auction, which was expected to raise $3,000 to $4,000 to benefit the nonprofit SafePlace. SafePlace operates a shelter for domestic violence victims.

The partnership was struck between the port and Olympia Beekeepers Association, who wanted to use the green fields at Olympia Regional Airport for bees and bee hives.

An initial effort in 2015 was not successful — and the reasons for that were not immediately clear — but the beekeepers returned in spring 2016 with two hives and about 30,000 bees.

In September the honey was harvested, jarred and named “Pure Runway 17 Honey.”

“It’s very nice tasting honey,” said port Executive Director Ed Galligan, adding that Olympia Regional Airport Director Rudy Rudolph had brought the first batch to a staff meeting.

The Olympia Beekeepers Association expects to have four hives at the airport in 2017.

Association President Laurie Pyne could not be reached for this story, but she addressed the port commission on Nov. 14 about working with the port.

It was a privilege to set up the hives at the airport because bees are in trouble and beekeepers are struggling, she said.

Pyne was referring to “colony collapse,” in which honey bees are dying for reasons that haven’t been precisely pinpointed, although the widespread use of pesticides is thought to be a contributing factor.

She encouraged those in the audience to “let the dandelions grow.”

Bees are thought to pollinate one-third of our food supply.

“We need them,” Pyne told the commission. “Helping them is helping us.”

The fields near the runway are a good location for beehives because they are near weeds, clover and blackberry vines, all of which is critical food supply for the health of bees, she said.

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