Live Bee Cam

The National Geographic Society picked up several hundred new employees this year. They work 24 hours a day, rain or shine, and are given room and board on the roof of our headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Our new bee population provides honey, and the bees' role as pollinators is leading to more robust flowers and fruits on the streets and yards of the U.S. capital.

The idea behind the bee plan came from Dan Price, who runs Sweet Virginia, a foundation that uses gifts of jars of honey from its many beehives across the region to entice people to donate to several Northern Virginia charities dedicated to “serving the needs of those most vulnerable in our local community.”

Price's grandfather, Everett C. Brown, worked at National Geographic for nearly 50 years, starting in the mailroom in 1923 and working his way up to vice president. Price wanted to use the product of his hives to honor his grandfather's legacy, and National Geographic's Green Committee was more than happy to help him. A plaque near the beehive is a tribute to Brown.

Getting the Bees in Place

Moving a hive of bees into downtown D.C. wasn't easy. Luckily, Price had help.

Ian Aranza was working for a cable company when he spied Price's beehives from a neighbor's rooftop and decided it was time to pick up a new job.

As a child in the Philippines, Aranza became fascinated with bees when he decided he wanted to try their honey. The problem? The bees were Apis dorsata—the giant honeybee. At almost an inch long, disturbing a hive of these creatures could have dire consequences.

Luckily, Aranza had a plan. Tying a long string to a rock, he aimed his slingshot and shot a hive high in a tree, well out of reach of immediate retaliation. The rock damaged the hive, causing the precious honey to slowly drip out of the broken cells. Patiently he watched as the golden drops then made their way along the string to his fingertips.

From then on, Aranza was hooked. He started catching other species of wild bees, Apis serena, to be kept in homemade hives, and eventually mail-ordered a colony of standard honeybees, Apis mellifera.

As an adult in the Philippines, Aranza kept some 800 hives. When he and his family moved to the U.S. he left the bees behind, and it wasn’t until he found Price's farm that he got back into beekeeping.

What’s Next for the Bees

We hope our bees can help us educate people about the vital role bees and other pollinators play in a healthy ecosystem. Our hive has just produced a very respectable honey harvest, and we are busy getting the honey ready for distribution and are even thinking about making lip balms.

Watch for further updates about the bees and their keeping as the hive matures.