Could urban beekeeping really help take the pressure off the damaged bee populations across the world and help safeguard a healthy supply for pollination? I’m not sure but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t try.
Cities such as Los Angeles have begun to overturn centuries old bans on urban beekeeping, to join New York, San Francisco, London and Paris, amongst the many Australian cities who allow the practice. Even the White House has bees on its rooftop. This rise of urban beekeeping over the last couple of years has coincided with research on the dangers of pesticides, and the now global awareness of declining bee numbers. So what are the arguments for and against urban bees?
Principally the main reason some beekeepers are concerned over the sudden influx amateurs is that there is simply a limited number of flowers in the city environment. Worries over colony starvation due to a too high density of bees to flowers is a legitimate concern. This the reason why they are suggesting instead of installing your own hives, to rather plant some flowers in or around your house.
So if we work together to convert our cities into beautiful floral buffets for our bee friends, what are the benefits?
Besides having in situ pollinators for all the urban gardens out there, these bees produce honey and other products that can be sold right out of the establishments underneath them. With sufficient output, the urban hives could supply a portion of the honey needs of the city. With activists preaching about movements such as ‘farm-to-table’, what more ecologically friendly way would there to be than harvesting your own produce from your own rooftop.
What about being able to create a population safeguard for rural bees? Some sources say that urban bees could never hope to compete with the numbers necessary for agriculture, and that bees remain close by to the hive, not being very helpful. This is true, however when the hive reproduces and a second queen emerges, they could be taken back out to the rural areas to establish a new one. Of course there is not enough space, or food available for commercial quantities of bees needed, but having healthy hives to draw off of wouldn’t hurt.
I think cities need to think about ecological initiatives that will benefit the communities that live there, and utilising the free space on all of the rooftops of the city would be a good place to start.
So i’m not sure if urban beekeeping is quite a revolution just yet, but I don’t think that it will go away any time soon.