Here’s a clever and judicious use of the open space that is required around a busy airport like Chicago’s O’Hare: An apiary.
There are now 1.5 million bees living in beehives in this open space. The beehives are tended mainly by carefully screened former convicts. The felons work for Sweet Beginnings, an enterprise that employs them as beekeepers, landscapers and food processors.
The Daily Herald has a quote from the CEO of Sweet Beginnings that I found encouraging:
“Bees don't distinguish between weeds and flowers,” Palms Barber said. “They see it all as a source of food and turn whatever they draw from into something sweet and good. That's what we do with these men and women. There is good in them as well.”
Here is the program’s manager, showing all the apiary has to offer.
Since the land that’s used for beekeeping is in what’s called the runway protection zone, it can't be developed. The open space was already vegetated with plants that attract bees. So the bees get a good home, the felons have a chance to learn meaningful skills while being employed.
If they’re smart, other airports across the country will replicate this model.
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