Beekeepers sweeten their deal with Colorado Public Radio

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There’s a new buzz around Colorado Public Radio’s headquarters in suburban Denver.

Bees — more than 100,000 of them — are flying in, out and around the three hive boxes that were installed this summer on the roof of CPR’s office building in Centennial. The outside of each brood chamber is decorated with logos for CPR’s radio services — CPR News, CPR Classical, Indie 102.3 and KRCC in Colorado Springs.

Denver-based Free Range Beehives installed the hive boxes in August and manages them. Founded in 2020 by father-son duos from two families, Free Range Beehives combines its corporate beekeeping with an employee education program focused on environmental sustainability and inclusivity in the workplace.

“We strive to educate professionals in their work setting so that they can make better individual choices at home on how to support the honeybee population,” said CEO Mike Rosol in a press release announcing the partnership with CPR.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to improve our environmental stewardship by taking an unused space and providing a home for thousands of honeybees,” added Stewart Vanderwilt, CPR CEO.

Bees busy working on CPR’s rooftop. (Photo: Free Range Beehives)

Free Range Beehives offers different tiers of service to its corporate hosts. Its beekeepers check on the hives every few weeks and provide written reports on how the bees are doing.

The company also offers presentations and workshops for employees. So far CPR has held a “lunch and learn” meeting where beekeepers explained what they’re doing on CPR’s rooftop and how the bees’ work to pollinate plants supports and sustains the local ecosystem.

Free Range Beehives’ education program includes lessons about how bees model inclusion, communication and selflessness in the workplace, according to the company’s website.

Beehives are inclusive and diverse work spaces, said John Rosol, co-founder and VP of operations. When something needs to be done in the hive, bees randomly select a diverse group of bees to take it on. One of the company’s presentations applies this behavior to the human workspace, showing how efficiently bees can work without “social drawbacks.”

“We can become as efficient as a beehive,” Rosol said.

The partnership began after Free Range Beehives became a CPR sponsor. When Vanderwilt called to thank the company for its support, Mike Rosol told him all about his work with bees.

Greer Hancock, an administrative office manager at CPR, was in her first week in the job when Vanderwilt popped into her office and said CPR should put beehives on the roof.

“It kind of rolled from there. It’s been really cool being involved in this process,” Hancock said.

Due to liability risks, CPR staff can’t go on the roof to observe the bees at work. CPR is looking into installing a camera on the roof, so employees can “see what the bees are up to,” Hancock said.

Eventually Free Range Beehives may be able to bring a beehive frame into the office to give employees a beehive tour, Hancock said. And next year, once the bees are settled, employees will be able to bring home some of the honey that’s been harvested from the hives.

The beehives are one example of how CPR values environmental sustainability, Hancock said. Another is the team of journalists covering the environment and climate change for CPR News. That “culture kind of trickles down into the employees,” she said. Staff get excited when they see the bees fly past their office windows.

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