By Caroline Vandergriff

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas shopping center is launching a new, buzz-worthy environmental project.

Tanger Outlets Fort Worth is now home to its own honey bee colony.

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While shoppers stroll through the center, more than 20,000 honey bees are hard at work above them.

Their rooftop habitat provides a protected home for some of the country’s declining bee population, as they take on an important job.

“Throughout the summer months, our honeybees do fly out approximately within a three-mile radius to pollinate the flora and fauna in the community, and they’ll be bringing back pollen and nectar to help with the development of the hive,” said Holly Conner with Tanger Outlets Fort Worth.

That daily quest keeps them uninterested in humans, which is why Alveole, the social beekeeping company taking care of the hive, says shoppers don’t have to worry about these honey bees bothering them. The breed also has a very mild temperament and only resorts to stinging if they feel their colony is being threatened.

“The hives will stay up year-round,” Conner said. “They will go through a hibernation period, and our resident beekeeper will do some protection of the hive against those cold temperatures.”

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The shopping center wants everyone to be able to play a role in the colony’s progress.

Tanger Outlets plans to host educational workshops for retailers and shoppers. People can also follow the hive’s journey online.

The goal of the program is to put a spotlight on the importance of building back biodiversity within urban communities.

“This partnership just further extends our commitment to environmental responsibility,” said Conner.

At the end of the season, the honey bees will have produced the equivalent of 100 jars of hyperlocal, artisanal honey per urban apiary.

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The shopping center plans to harvest that honey and share it with its neighbors.

Caroline Vandergriff