On One Two Pru’s rooftop deck, four carefully-maintained urban beehives bustle with activity — the epicenter of a three-mile radius of a brilliant pollination operation. And the guardian over these precious colonies is One Two Pru’s personal beekeeper Dana McMullin of Alvéole. We sat down with McMullin to learn more about what it’s like to work with these bustling buzzers, the unique setting of One Two Pru and, of course, the wonders of unpasteurized honey.
McMullin is a Chicago local, and first ventured into farming in search of an outlet to immerse herself in some sort of nature in the city. The keeper chronicles, “That search led me to becoming certified in Sustainable, Urban Agriculture. I had a small farm on the south side of Chicago on an incubator site. So, beekeeping full-time was a natural progression for me…a sweeter harvest compared to vegetables: honey!”
On her work tending to the hives, McMullin details, “I have found bee keeping is equal parts art and science. Personally, I appreciate the forced meditation it requires to work in a hive.” Perched upon a terrace by the amenity deck of One Two Pru, each of the four beehives McMullin works with is a society unto itself, with one queen per colony. These hives are currently insulated for the winter and “hibernating” until spring. McMullin excitedly explains, “Incredibly, they will stay on site during the cold months maintaining a temperature of 93F in the hive!”
A raw force of nature, the bees from these colonies can fly up to three miles in any direction each day, pollinating the entire radius in their wake. “Overall, An urban beehive is an unparalleled educational tool, as well as a promoter of important attitude changes with respect to the environment. And, it can have a positive impact on the surrounding ecosystem,” explains the beekeeper. McMullin’s vital role in this process involves inspecting the hives one by one, and confirming the health of each of the queens, “I can check her health by her brood or egg-laying pattern even if I don’t physically see her.” And depending on the season, McMullin tackles tasks ranging from preventing swarms by giving the colony more room, to counting honey frames in preparation for harvest. And one of the best parts of her job? “I am always greeted by the breathtaking backdrop of Millenium Park and Lake Michigan,” says McMullin.
And one of the more fun parts of the work – the harvest – is another perk of keeping bees. “Each hive produces honey that reflects the ecosystem surrounding it,” McMullin comments, “A hive’s unpasteurized honey encompasses flavours from each flower visited by the bees.” So the honey produced atop One Two Pru is truly a local creation, and according to McMullin, its antibacterial and antifungal qualities make it prime to treat wounds and burns. Honey is also known to boost immunity, digestion and gut health, as well as many other holistic medicinal benefits.
So how can tenants at One Two Pru get involved? “Tenants are always welcome to join me at the hive during inspections!” says McMullin. We also recommend supporting environmentally-friendly agriculture, requesting pesticide regulations from elected representatives and governments, planting bee-friendly flowers and plants (“and letting weeds grow freely!”) and encouraging your local schools and buildings to install beehives to foster environmental awareness within your organization.