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A beekeeper poses with beehive frame.

Bees Have Arrived at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico

There’s a buzz in the air at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) headquarters. It’s the hum of more than 120,000 new honeybees.

BCBSNM’s Albuquerque office recently installed two hives on the north side of the building as part of its sustainability push. The hives each house nearly 60,000 docile honeybees and sit on land blessed by a tribal member of the Pueblo of Isleta.

A beekeeper from Alveole, a company that helps businesses, schools and other organizations bring bees to their buildings, will maintain the hives. They will be Alveole’s first in New Mexico.

“I’m really excited about this project,” says Amy Owen, an Alveole beekeeper caring for the BCBSNM hives. “I love the idea of corporate responsibility and BCBSNM acting as an example to other corporations of how their practices impact the environment.”

Bees have an outsized influence on the ecosystem. They spend their lives flying miles from home looking for food sources and, moving from flower to flower, they collect pollen on their legs and underbellies and spread it around the environment during their hunt for pollen and nectar.

That nectar is needed to produce everyone’s favorite bee product: honey. Each fall, beekeepers will harvest about 100 jars from the BCBSNM hives. The harvest will fluctuate depending on the health of the bees and local rainfall. The honey will be available for sale to employees.

But Owen, a board member of the New Mexico Beekeepers Association, hopes the project can “open people’s minds to the many things bees do besides provide us with a sweet treat.”

As pollinators, they help grow many of the crops we eat, including chocolate, coffee and other healthy foods. Bees also produce resources with medicinal properties.

But pesticides and climate change are killing wild bee communities. So BCBSNM’s two hives represent a small act of conservation and an educational opportunity.

“Bees are important to pollenating and saving our planet, so we want to join that cause with this small act of putting bees at our headquarters,” says Luis Campos, senior manager of facilities operations at BCBSNM. “We’re excited to join the cause of urban beekeeping.”

Albuquerque’s desert climate, severe drought periods and nightly temperature swings pose unique challenges to beekeeping. But the bees are set up for success, Owen says.

The nearby Rio Grande River provides an excellent water source and Owen raised the colonies for eight years to acclimate them to desert conditions.

“Having bees in an urban setting or near a corporation like Blue Cross and Blue Shield gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the health of the environment around you and the impact you’re making,” she says. “It’s a great spot for these bees.”

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association