Urban beekeeping

Importance of bees in the urban areas

By keeping just one hive you are immediately introducing 50,000 pollinators into an urban area and that can have a huge impact on the environment. I like the idea of doing something as an unfettered individual when most of the time we can’t seem to affect any of the sad things that are happening to the earthsays Camilla Goddard, 38, the urban beekeeper from London. She keeps bees on her allotment, in a university campus and on the roof of a cosmetics company in Covent Garden, central London, seeing it as a small contribution to saving the planet.  Beekeeping in the urban areas has become more and more popular, e.g. in just three years membership of the British Beekeeping Association has doubled to 20,000. It is possible to find beehives even on the famous London’s landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Tate Modern in London, U.K. Beekeeping has become also popular in other world’s cities such as Berlin, Paris, New York, Vienna,…

In Vienna, there are currently around 5,000 hives and up to 200 million bees live there during the summer. The beehives are distributed across the city’s green spaces, for e.g. in parks or near the Danube Canal, but also in other unusual places – in the central cemetery, within the General Hospital or on the roof of the town hall in the centre of the city. Within one of the current projects, City Nature, Vienna provides information necessary for the care of meadows. Mowed lawns, landscaped meadows and exotic plants do not contain sufficient nectar and have no ecological value for bees and other insects. Citizens are therefore advised to plant flowers and herbs on their balconies and gardens.

Beekeeping on the roof of Hotel Daniel
 – © Hotel Daniel Vienna

Dutch city Utrecht also recognized importance of the bees, bumblebees and other pollinators and installed green roofs on 316 bus stops to attract them. Green roofs also help capture fine dust, storage of rainwater and provide cooling in the summertime and contribute to the city’s biodiversity, supporting insects like honey bees and bumblebees.

Green roof on Utrecht bus stop
image by : Brightvibes

Education

Education is the most effective way to influence and change a community’s perspective on the importance of the honeybee and other pollinators’ population. The group of beekeepers and educators in the USA created a series of educational experiences that centre around pollinators (honeybees), conservation, and beekeeping. The aim of these programs are to educate the community on the importance of pollinators, beekeeping, and simple day-to-day conservation efforts that will support a healthy future for our world’s honeybees.

In Croatia in 2012, the Association for Creative Social Work initiated, on the initiative of its users, the establishment of an “Educational-Urban Apiary” at the Savska Opatovina in the City of Zagreb. Working with bees has a calming effect on beekeepers, and staying in the apiary further improves the condition of their users. Practical work in apiary directly educates users about beekeeping and the bees, while the indirect benefit is the conservation of biodiversity and the pollination of plants.  After mentoring, several of their beneficiaries became employed by beekeepers with many beehives, thus contributing to the integration of young people with behavioral problems and ex-addicts. The purpose of urban apiaries is to introduce their users into the field of beekeeping through structured education, which includes practical work, and give them the knowledge, experience and work habits, thus alleviating the unemployment problem for the users.

Saša Danon

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