Is keeping beehives in grocery stores a totally crazy idea? Well, that all depends on how much you like honey ... and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sainsbury's, a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, is installing "bee hotels" in several of its store locations in an attempt to boost local bee populations.
So how are the customers dealing with the new residents?
First, a little background: The last few years have seen a rapid decline in bee populations -- dropping nearly 17 percent in the U.K. and anywhere from 30 to 50 percent here in the United States.
A honey shortage is just one negative side effect of the sharp decline. Much more devastating to our food economy is the fact that bees are an essential part of the food chain; fruit and vegetable crops depend on them for pollination.
Therefore, keeping bees around -- to rejuvenate their populations and maybe even learn about why we are losing so many so quickly -- is in everyone's best interest. Even if that means you'll hear a little buzzing when you shop.
The trend may be making its way to the U.S., too. A locally sourced grocery store opening soon in West Chester, Pennsylvania, will feature an active, glass-enclosed beehive. According to the store's CEO, bees will fly in and out through a hole in the outside wall of the store, and the bees' honey will be available for customers to purchase.
That's about as local as you can get.
And for customers who might be a little leery of shopping with the stinging insects, bee experts maintain that the bees "are very docile and are therefore very unlikely to sting."
Would you shop in a grocery store that had a beehive?
Image via sally/Flickr