American Waste Control has quite a “sting operation” going on in Tulsa these days. The waste collection company is now raising 500,000 honeybees at its waste-to-energy landfill, American Environmental Landfill, in an effort to help local plants thrive and to raise awareness of the importance of bees to Tulsa’s eco-system.
The bee idea blossomed a few years ago, after Kenneth Burkett, the company’s owner, heard about the plight of bees worldwide and wanted to do something to boost their numbers in the wild locally.
“You hear all the time about how bee populations are dropping off,” said Burkett. “I just wanted to do my part in helping keep the bee population strong while also helping our local environment.
According to Burkett, the project started when his company was faced with the choice of using herbicides to control brush growth near power lines on AEL’s property. Knowing that the chemicals could permanently impair the native bee population, Burkett decided to hand clear the bushes and set up beehives to help nurture the local bee population. Today, the bees produce two different kinds of “landfill honey,” and visitors are often given a taste when they come for a tour.
“This year’s honey harvest is in and it’s a good one,” said Todd Green, VP of American Environmental Landfill. “These bees are very docile and make delicious honey. We’re thrilled to have them around and boost pollination of many different kinds of plants and flowers around the region. It really makes us feel we’re doing something important.”
Asked whether he thought the landfill was an unusual place to raise bees, Green said of course not: “It’s the perfect spot, actually. We have wide-open spaces and a great, out of the way place where they won’t be bothered. Besides, we really care about nature around here and want to do all we can to lend a helping hand.”