Every May 20 is celebrated the World bee day. The aim is to remember their importance, which goes far beyond the final production of honey. Bees, in fact, are an essential link of our ecosystem, fundamental for its balance and indispensable also for many other living species, which pollinate and fertilize making their existence possible. For all these reasons, we must remember our pollinators and preserve them from extinction: not only today, but every day. Let's see how it could be done also in the city or in other places and not only in the countryside.
The bee crisis
Unlike us, bees live in a perfect society. They communicate with each other with extremely complex movements; the architecture of their nests is an inspiration for architects and designers and in their system the concept "vos, non vobis" (work, not for you). Yet they have to deal with us, which has caused them many problems. In fact, since the 1990s, as is well known (although it would not seem), the crisis in bees has worsened and has steadily and consistently decreased everywhere. There have been many causes, first of all the use of pesticides (such as neonicotinoids) which, as a Cilento beekeeper explains, Giovanni Cavallo, "Cause the depopulation of the hives, as the bees are no longer able to orient themselves and therefore, being poisoned, the colony collapses".
This would seem an unimportant fact, but if the situation worsened further the impact would have a large-scale impact. Because, as anticipated, bees are fundamental for the whole system, therefore starting from agriculture, as (statistically) bees pollinate more than two out of three fruits that arrive on our tables.
Thus, in recent years, various projects have been born (although not yet enough) to raise public awareness and change the trend of these data. Even for those who live in the city. In general, Giovanni Cavallo continues, "places far from conventional agriculture, immersed in the Mediterranean maquis or over the Alps and Apennines at more than 1000 meters, should not be underestimated; the important thing is that the environment is as clean as possible ".
Also another beekeeper, the Marches Luca Bianchi, he continues by arguing that «each of us has an important task for the survival of this insect. We should change our lifestyle, trying to make everything cleaner. For example, what I unfortunately see around these days is indecent: plastic masks and gloves thrown along the roads and unsuitable environments: each of us, with our own small gestures, contributes in favor of nature, or against it, degrading its beauty".
Are bees better in the city?
The result of this awareness has been the installation of hives even in cities where, despite common sense, bees seem to be better than in the countryside. The idea is based on a scientific fact, namely that paradoxically, the city air and soil present fewer pesticides than agricultural ones. As far as smog is concerned, it is potentially more harmful to humans than to insects, although the concentration of ozone in the city can confuse bees in identifying flowers, and therefore make it more difficult for them to feed. In the days of quarantine, in fact, the hives were superproductive! Luca Bianchi tells us that "although man has stopped much of his activities, nature has continued to run its course. The bees, in particular, continued the work, going to collect, to my surprise and happiness, an early, intense honey, with a very marked smell and taste … You will feel ".
Urban hives: the new frontier which is also a trend
But in reality urban experiments have also given excellent results: just think of the skyscrapers of New York, where having bees today seems to have become a real fashion. And maybe the fashions were all like that! Not least is the situation in Europe, such as the Vulkan Beehive urban beehive projects in Snøhetta, Oslo; or the Parisian bees that live on the roof of the Opera or Notre Dame (and also resisted the fire of last April). In Italy, on the other hand, the forerunner was Turin with the project Urbees, presented at Expo 2015, then followed by other cities such as Rome and Milan. How could in fact the Lombard capital not feel called into question, given that its patron Sant’Ambrogio is the protector of beekeepers and wax producers? In the city you can also attend various courses for enthusiasts, such as the Apiculture course Parco Nord Milano at Cascina Centro Parco. Last but not least, the honey produced by urban bees is technically zero km, which would further benefit the environment by reducing CO2 emissions due to any transport avoided. In short, is it making you want to adopt a queen bee and her friends?
Hives on the terrace
This could be the best way to celebrate World Bee Day: install an apiary on the terrace. According to the requirement of minimum distances, it is not recommended to adopt a swarm on the balcony, while there is the possibility of doing it precisely on terraces, gardens and condominium roofs, according to some rules. There are different policies in this regard, so the advice, as a first step, is to ask your condominium administrator for information. But remember that that of the beekeeper is a real job, just as making honey requires a lot of preparation, as bees must also be treated against varroa (an external parasite mite, their enemy number one); for this reason, before starting, we advise you to contact professionals in the sector. In this regard, the commendable initiative of Mauro Veca that, with his Apicolturaurbana, can be an excellent help to get you closer to the world of beekeeping, from finding bee colonies, to knowing the tricks of the trade, as well as to extricate yourself in the regulations of the bureaucracy.
Finally, we advise you to watch the episode Universal hatred of the Anglo-Saxon series Black Mirror: do we want all the precious work of the api to be replaced by technology in the future?