Honey bees aren't just tiny creatures that we care about and want to help because they're cute (not that there would be anything wrong with that!). According to Planet Bee Foundation, nearly 90% of plants need pollinators to reproduce. And considering that plants do everything from providing food, cover, and medicine to producing oxygen, preventing soil erosion, and keeping our waterways clean, honey bees are pretty important.
While honey bees have not yet been labeled endangered, their populations are in a rapid, frightening decline. They're subject to a wide variety of threats, including disease, pesticides, and even murder hornets. Many of us have long taken for granted honey bees and the crucial role they play in our lives, but that's beginning to change.
Just last month, concerned 11-year-old Illinois resident Scarlett Harper was featured on the CBS Evening News for helping to create Illinois HB 3118, the Bee Bill, aimed at limiting mosquito pesticides that can be lethal to bees.
And now at the corporate level, as an increasing number of community-minded businesses pledge to invest more money and resources into their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) efforts, bees -- and what they can do -- are beginning to get some high-profile attention.
What all the buzz is about
Goldman Sachs Asset Management is teaming up with urban beekeeping company Alvéole to take the best possible advantage of some previously underutilized space -- rooftops. The firm has selected 30 priority properties to deliver hives to, including both office and multifamily buildings. These arrangements include a dedicated beekeeper, maintenance and hive management, educational workshops, and dozens of custom-packaged jars of the honey produced by the bees at each location.
Participating tenants can track the health and productivity of the bees online and engage with them in person while watching the honey extraction process. This presents opportunities for team building in offices and for community engagement at apartment buildings.
Alvéole president and CEO Alexandre Mclean said in a statement, "Through our turnkey educational program, it’s our goal to make people fall in love with bees, connect them with nature, and build long-lasting sustainability programs with communities in cities around the globe."
Joseph Sumberg, a Goldman Sachs managing director in real estate, explained to Commercial Observer that the firm identified this opportunity while working on its $750 billion commitment to sustainable finance.
"We strive to leverage our assets to their full potential, including on rooftops, which often have unused portions that are suitable for hives," Sumberg said. "Partnering with Alvéole allows us to optimize space while helping the organization expand at a faster rate and increase impact."
He indicated that Goldman Sachs is interested in eventually making the hives and accompanying programs a standard offering with all of its eligible properties.
The Millionacres bottom line
Urban beekeeping company Alvéole is forming an increasing number of high-profile real estate partnerships to get their hives and bee education/appreciation programs widely distributed in urban areas. In addition to Goldman Sachs, Alvéole is working with others, including Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services as well as several colleges, to bring these resources to as many urban areas as possible.
The hives, as well as the accompanying programs Alvéole provides, can benefit the real estate they're added to by creating more engagement among employees, residents, and students. And by helping spread awareness about bees and the crucial role they play in all our lives, they can benefit the environment, too. This presents a unique opportunity that could sweeten the pot for many ESG real estate investors.