When you think of the brand name Ford, most people think of iconic automobiles, quality innovations, new cutting-edge vehicle designs, and the Ford F-150 line of pickup trucks featured at Ford dealers in Indianapolis and elsewhere. However, did you know that Ford also follows sustainable practices at its Ford Rouge Factory, which also includes a population of 80,000 bees?
Back in the early 2000s, Ford was looking into different options to gives its Rouge Factory a greening update and do away with the standard concrete gray and black themes, common at most automotive production facilities. Aptly coined the Heritage 2000 Program, the new initiative called in sustainability architects and designers to make the facility greener and more eco-friendly.
Initially, the designers started by greening different areas of the property and planting crabapple trees. Crabapple trees are hardy in the colder climates experienced at this Dearborn, Michigan location and produce pleasant-scented flowers in the springtime. During the greening initiative roll out, an employee brought up the topic of honey bees and how their decline was impacting our environment.
The execs at Ford took notice and thought it would be a great idea to help support the declining honey bee population by raising bees at the newly greened facility. The bees were a huge success, and the honey they produce has been harvested and given out to Ford employees and executives over the years. The bees are cared for by a team of environmental experts and volunteers that work at the facility.
Among them, Mary Mason is probably the most well-known, as she was one of the first to jump in and help Ford with the establishment of its bee colonies at the Rouge Factory in 2003. Mary was already raising honey bees on her own, and she brought in some of her colony to help develop the bees Ford had brought in to pollinate the crabapple trees. Since that time the population has grown to around 80,000 bees.
The honey bee colonies at the Ford Rouge Complex include the queen, worker bees, and drone bees. The drones mate with the queen and then quickly die. During her lifetime, the queen will produce about 1,500 eggs each day and up to 1 million during her five- to seven-year lifespan. The worker bees also have relatively short lifespans since they work tirelessly and constantly collecting pollen and helping to keep the queen warm during the colder winter months.
Ford includes its Living Laboratory Walking Tour, where you can see the bee colony, as part of its Rouge Factory Tour, weather permitting, from mid-April to late-September. The outdoor tour also features the Living Roof, one of the largest in the world. Aside from these green tours, visitors to the complex can see how the Ford F-150 truck is produced, check out vintage Ford vehicles manufactured at the plant, and take a walking tour of the assembly plant.
For more information about touring the Ford Rouge Facility, or to check out the latest Ford vehicles, please feel free to visit Community Ford or call us at 317-831-2750 today!