Bee Downtown started when Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, a fourth generation beekeeper, was in college and asked her landlord if she could keep honeybee hives at her apartment. When the answer was “no” she turned to American Tobacco Campus, also the location of the world headquarters of Burt’s Bees, where she was interning. The three hives she placed on the roof of that building attracted local media, and other companies started asking about bringing bees to their campuses as well.
As companies like Delta Air Lines, AT&T, Met-Life, and Cisco started adding hives to their campuses, employees were eager to learn and experience more. From the excitement Bee Downtown found its sweet spot — creating experiences like hive tours, honey extractions, beekeeping classes and so much more.
The unexpected joy these experiences brought to their partners, as well as the employee goodwill and loyalty they created, forged the foundation for what has now become the Bee Downtown Corporate Hive Program.
In 2016 as the Corporate Hive Program was growing, Leigh-Kathryn met retired Colonel Joe LeBoeuf, Professor Emeritus Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Joe immediately saw the beehive as a unique metaphor to teach communication, trust, and other key components of creating and leading high performing teams. From that meeting the BDT Leadership Institute was created.
Bee Downtown now operates the Corporate Hive Program in Raleigh-Durham, NC and Atlanta, GA with more cities to be announced shortly. The BDT Leadership Institute’s training facility in Research Triangle Park, NC provides a tranquil retreat for teams to learn from one of Mother Nature’s best and oldest teachers: the honeybee.
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