Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bee Hives to Occupy Land Owned by Lambert Airport

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bee Hives to Occupy Land Owned by Lambert Airport

Article excerpt

Hundreds of thousands of honeybees soon will take flight near the newest runway at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

If only the same could be said for commercial jets.

The St. Louis Airport Authority approved a three-year lease with Robins Apiaries to keep bee hives on a 400-square-foot patch of land north of the third parallel runway, the underused landing strip that opened in 2006. The airport will collect $75 a year in rent.

Beekeeper Jim Robins, 76, said he was drawn to the airport location because of the plentiful supply of white dutch clover blooming near the runways and in what used to be Freebourn Park. There also aren't any pesticides that could prove dangerous to bees, he said.

"I know the airport's good because I've had bees next to the airport for a long time," Robins said while tending to some of his hives last week in Maryland Heights.

Bees can cover about 5,000 acres of land, flying 11/2 miles in any direction to retrieve nectar, Robins said. This time of year, the bees are nearing the end of their gathering time.

Robins has 68 years of experience in beekeeping, learning the craft from his father. His son is also a beekeeper. He has kept bees in 11 states. At various times, he bought out the largest beekeepers in Indiana, Illinois "and a bunch of states."

Now living in St. Charles, Robins said he has "actually been cutting back." He currently has about 30 locations where he keeps bees in the St. Louis metropolitan area, but also maintains hives outside the area.

Still, Robins' experience helps him size up the best spots for his hives. The hives will be on a patch of land behind barricades declaring the property off limits to the public. The airport property is outside the airfield security fence.

The apiary will be north of the $1 billion runway conceived when Lambert was still a bustling hub airport. …

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