Environmental Politics Biodiversity Home Grown
HOORAY FOR THE HONEY BEE!
The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an agency of the European Union. Our task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. We are a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public. Currently, the EEA has 32 member countries. More details can be found on the website eea.europe.eu .We are located in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark, and since recently, we are also home to 80.000 bees on the roof of our building (see: photos).
Bees are under threat
‘Bees could be seen as the “sentinels of the environment”. They are very sensitive to what is going on around them. The honeybee is under threat from mites, from viruses and from pollution. Another threat we see is the general weakening of the constitution of the honeybee. Are honeybees not adapted to their environment? Have they become genetically weak because of our breeding practices? Is the “sentinel” showing us the level of contamination in the environment?’
’Remember, at least every third mouthful of human food depends on pollination. The vast majority of this pollination — maybe 80 % — is carried out by the honeybee. We must preserve natural, widespread pollination in order to safeguard our food.’
Paris is buzzing
Bees have been kept on the roof of the Paris Opera house for 25 years. The colony at this most Parisian institution is thriving and produces almost 500 kg of honey every year.
The city bees are flourishing and there are as many as 400 colonies in the city. New hives are now in place in Versailles Palace and at the Grande Palais. Indeed cities provide an abundance of flowering plants and trees in our gardens and parks. And while there is pollution there are much fewer pesticides in cities. Urban bees appear to be doing better than their country cousins in Europe.
The French National Union of Beekeepers started a campaign — ‘Operation Bees’ — in 2005 with the goal of integrating bees into the urban landscape. It seems to be working. The beekeepers union estimates that each Parisian beehive produces a minimum of 50–60 kg of honey per harvest and the death rate of the colonies is 3–5 %. That compares to country bees that produce between 10 and 20 kilograms of honey and experience a death rate of 30–40 %.
Bees are also busy in London. According to the London Beekeepers Association, urban bees appreciate the abundance of flowering plants and trees combined with relatively low pesticide use. This, and the slightly milder weather, means that the bee-keeping season is longer and usually more productive than in rural areas. A perfect example of the potential of our urban ecosystem.
More details can be found on pages 15 and 56 in Signals 2010 report.
Environment Commissioner and Danish Minister meet 80,000 workers at the EEAThe bees living on the roof of the European Environment Agency (EEA) received some special guests on Thursday 23 June 2011, when European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Danish Environment Minister Karen Ellemann visited their hives. The two policy makers joined EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade in harvesting the first batch of honey, see more details Environment commissioner and Danish minister harvesting the first batch of honey on 23 June 2011
The organisation behind the City Bees has also an English website Bybi (City Bees)
On 6th December 2011 Oliver has sent a Christmas update from the City bies.
Beekeepers and other interested parties can subscribe to their Newsletter .
Nice! Bee-keeping is coming slowly here in Göteborg too.
Yesterday evening Danish Television DR2 broadcasted the American documentary "Wanishing of the Bees" under the Danish title Hjælp bierne forsvinder from year 2010. The documentary came up with a number of plausible explanations why the honey bees are wanishing from the agricultural areas in the US and the severe consequenses this might have to for future crops vegetables and the human health in general. More details about the documentary "Wanishing of the Bees" to be found under the following references (links):
En svimlende storfilm om en katastrofal krise i fødevarekædens mindste led. "More Than Honey" er en visuelt svimlende storfilm om livet og døden i kuberne, optaget på et millionbudget, der bringer os så tæt på gåden, som kun en hjerne-scanning af en bi kan! En storslået, filmisk oplevelse fra en natur i alarmerende ubalance. Særvisning med foredrag og FDB der byder på honningmadder og BYBI- honning til at tage med hjem i Grand lørdag d. 10/11. Særpris 100kr. jf nærmere oplysninger på hjemmesiden http://www.cphdox.dk/d/film.lasso?e&ser=1814&s=2012010 .
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