Garden and Urban Beekeeping

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:16 pm

Good morning to all garden lovers. Today I come to comment on a topic that is very fashionable in the USA, has jumped to Europe and is beginning to show its head in some Spanish cities, it is urban beekeeping, a way to produce honey from honeycombs located on terraces or balconies of the city.

Garden and Urban Beekeeping

I do not want to get into controversies and conspiracy theories, which there are plenty, but it is true that the number of bees has been drastically reduced in recent years mainly due to the increase of more drastic and harmful chemical treatments on crops.

Garden and Urban Beekeeping

As you know, bees are responsible for pollinating, according to the United Nations for the Environment more than 70% of the crops that provide 90% of the food we eat, without them world food production could become a utopia.

To alleviate this effect and give the city a sweeter touch in recent years have begun to implement beehives on many rooftops and balconies without putting at risk to the inhabitants of the building and the surrounding area.

Urban beekeeping

Why beekeeping in cities? Although it may seem crazy to place a small colony of bees in the middle of a city, it is not nonsense. The bees take advantage of the surrounding parks, urban orchards and gardens to obtain pollen and feed on it, which favors the pollination of these and gives rise to honey. According to experts, they produce a very rich honey, with an intense flavor due to the varied diet of these bees, since urban parks are characterized by a great biodiversity of species and bees have more pollen to choose from.

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In cities, bees are much more protected from the pesticides that can be found in the fields, so the honey they produce contains less residues and, according to some experts, its consumption could even develop defenses to prevent allergies. They are also excellent bio-indicators of air quality. If the bees become sick, they indicate that the state of the air in the city and the environment is not the most adequate, thus alerting its inhabitants.

Beekeeping is even easier than having your own urban vegetable garden or growing mushrooms at home. To start this hobby it is only necessary to acquire a hive (there are from 60 dollars), the bees (there are specialized stores that send you by mail 2000 subjects and a queen), a suit with a mask and some devices for the care, such as a smoker.


Relationship with urban gardens

The association between a vegetable garden and a hive of bees is not new, in fact Mendel in the garden of his famous peas already had between 15 and 36 hives to pollinate it. The benefits of this symbiosis are obvious, our plants will be pollinated giving rise to earlier and better quality fruits and we will be able to obtain honey from our honeycombs.

Now, a hive of bees in the city may find it difficult to obtain pollen if there are no green spaces nearby. In cities such as London, which has an incredible network of urban gardens, the number of beekeepers has increased by 220% from 1999 to 2012, one of the keys to this increase lies in the ease with which bees find food in the so-called allotments:

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Garden and Urban Beekeeping
Here we see a beehive between two terraces in an allotment

In cities where this is not the case, urban orchards are the key to be able to practice this activity. For example, New York has become one of the leading cities in terms of urban beekeeping and until 2010 it was considered an illegal activity and those who practiced it were fined up to 2000 dollars.

After the lifting of the ban many restaurants and hotels decided to set up their hives in impossible places without a lot of green areas and much of the success of these projects is due to the association with urban gardens on rooftops.

With all this I think that the association of urban gardens with bee hives, like the examples we have seen above, can become a natural thing in cities in a few years. It is true that this activity is not allowed in all cities (in Madrid for example it is not yet legal, but in Barcelona and Cordoba the installation of beehives in historical buildings has already been approved). It will be a matter of time before it is allowed due to the current success of the initiative and the benefits it brings to citizens.

If you are interested in this subject there is a lot of information on the internet, since most urban beekeepers get their information through the net. Here are some interesting links:

Author

  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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