Urban Beekeeping

Beehaus,” a new beehive design, can be used on urban rooftops to harvest up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of honey per year, according to The New York Times Green Inc blog. The hives could also help stem a decline in the bee population. Natural England, a UK government conservation agency, will add Beehaus to its roof in Central London. The conservation agency said the hive is easy to set-up and use by both expert beekeepers and amateurs.

James Tuthill, a co-founder of Omlet, the company that makes Beehaus, said: “with the help of urban gardeners, bees can have access to a wonderfully diverse source of plants, resulting in fantastic flavorsome honey.”

Urban beekeeping isn’t new. According to Green Inc, Fortnum & Mason, a food emporium, and the Palais Garnier, the Paris opera house, both have rooftop hives. In Vancouver, the new 6-acre convention center green roof includes hives. (see earlier post) Also, in the U.S., the Obamas have been planning a new beehive for the White House lawn.

Bees not only produce honey, but also provide key ecosystem services, including pollination, so their decline is cause for great concern. In the U.S. and Europe, there have been reports of declining numbers of bees. “The European Food Safety Authority says the true extent of the losses is hard to estimate but it reports that in Italy alone up to half of bees may have died in 2007.”

Colony collapse disorder, or mass bee die-off, may be caused by a number of factors, including “starvation, viruses, mites, pesticide exposure and climate change.” According to Green Inc, members of the European Parliament place the blame for bee die-off on “intensive production methods, pesticides and the use of genetically modified crops.” 

A further decline in bees could have a negative impact on agricultural production.

Read the article and a brief on bees and pollination ecosystem services from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image credit: Omlet

One thought on “Urban Beekeeping

  1. Amy Verel 08/14/2009 / 2:04 pm

    Very cool! Chicago’s City Hall green roof and The Chicago Cultural Center both have rooftop hives (http://chicagoist.com/2008/04/22/the_buzz_on_chi.php). According to Millennium Park staff, the nearby Cultural Center’s honey (which is available for purchase) has become noticeably mintier since the establishment of the Lurie Garden, which incorporates multiple varieties of mint.

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