Bumble-bee lips by Paige Thompson
Tokyo’s honeybees on skyscraper rooftops
“The office tower would not look out of place in any central Tokyo street: from its glass entrance door and sweeping marble lobby to the ear-popping lift with its steady influx of salarymen.
But this particular building is not only abuzz with the activity of its grey-suited workers. Its rooftop is home to a less conventional breed of tenants: more than 300,000 honeybees.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Tokyo may be more famous for its concentration of human beings than for its status as a home for bees. However, the urban honeybee is flourishing in the metropolis.
Once associated with strictly rural environments, the world’s honeybee population is in crisis. Fuelled by a complex cocktail of problems ranging from climate change to the use of pesticides in rural areas, a global decline of the honeybee has gathered pace in recent years…
The decline of the honeybee has led to experts making increasingly vociferous calls for urban dwellers to take up beekeeping in cities where pesticide contamination is low and honeybees are able to flourish.
Among the most famous of the urban beekeeping aficionados is Scarlett Johansson, who received a hive of the animals from Samuel L Jackson as a wedding gift.
Testimony to the rise of the urban beekeeper is the success of Tokyo’s honeybee project on a rooftop in the heart of the upmarket Ginza area of the city. Here, in an area more famous for its architect-designed fashion towers, historic department stores, crowds of shoppers and the most expensive commercial rental space in the capital, the honeybees are thriving.
Fortified by nectar from pesticide-free flowers grown in the nearby Imperial Palace gardens, inner-city parks and the odd rooftop garden, the collection of 20 hives of bees has produced more than 760kg of honey so far this year…”
“Some people are fearful of the thought of thousands of honeybees in the city. But they are not dangerous. They rarely sting. They are quite soft creatures; they have good characters. And they are very happy today – they haven’t stung me once.
“At first, we had to persuade the other offices in the building and the local authorities that it was a good, safe idea to have honeybees here – and since we started up, we have not had a single complaint.”
At least 10 companies in Ginza have started planting rooftop flower gardens to create nectar-rich enclaves as part of the project.
“The city is actually a very good place for honeybees,” says Tanaka. “The flowers that are grown here are not affected by pesticides like in the countryside.
“Honeybees don’t live for very long – only 30 to 40 days – so there is not enough time for city pollution to affect them. It is a great environment for them to make honey.
“Working on this project has made me realize that the city is not just about humans. There are bees and butterflies and all sorts of other insects living alongside us.”
Photo by: Chris Hondros
HELP TO SAVE THE HONEYBEE – LEGALIZE URBAN BEEKEEPING IN LOS ANGELES!!
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***You do NOT need to live in Los Angeles to sign!!
Vanishing of the Bees says, “another way to help the bees – dance!”
“Dan Susman is making a documentary called Growing Cities about urban farming across America. He and his partner Andrew Monbouquette shot this segment about a hive rescue with LA Backwards Beekeeper Warren, who does a great job of explaining our mission.”
“Finding a Home” Night at the Mar Vista Community Council
“Rob and Chelsea McFarland spoke for another creature in vital need of a home: bees. Said that a world without bees is a world without food. The best way to protect bees is to give them homes wherever possible. The Council approved a pilot study for their bee program.”
Article by: Andy Shrader / Photo Credit: Roy Persinko
“I’ve always thought that beehives are organized similarly to how we do things here at Google. Bees have a flat management structure and they adapt quickly and change roles throughout their career (nurse, guard, foragers, quality control, etc.) depending on demands. And the bees that collect nectar from the forager bees at the entrance to the hive also scrutinize it for quality. If it’s not high enough, they send the foragers back out to get a fresh start… it reminds me a bit of a Google code review!
If Google’s a beehive, then I’m what you might call a forager. I work on the culinary team and we strive to serve food that’s produced locally and grown in a sustainable manner. But we wanted to take the effort to the next level. So, with help from the Marin Bee Company, we’ve installed four hives of bees to help us be as self-sufficient as possible.
The four hives—collectively known as the Hiveplex, of course—are each painted in one of Google’s colors. We’ve placed them close to large areas of wild flowers on our campus, far enough away that anyone who isn’t fond of bees can easily avoid them, but close enough that anyone who wants to can walk over and watch them at work. Many Googlers have signed up to contribute to beekeeping and honey extraction efforts, and, come the harvest in the fall, we’ll round the season off with a series of cooking classes and candle-making sessions for all those who have signed up to help.
With this project, we’re also hoping to raise awareness of impact of Colony Collapse Disorder(CCD)—a phenomenon in which worker bees abandon the hive for reasons that aren’t fully understood. This has become a cause of global concern and in some parts of the world more than 50 percent of the hives have been found abandoned. This has grave implications for us all as bees are responsible for pollinating approximately 70 percent of the fruit and vegetables we eat. The loss of bees has serious consequences for plants, wildlife and human survival. (You can read more here.)
To see our newest colleagues at work, check out the album below. Someday we might create a Buzz account for our bees so you can all track their progress and follow our bee keeping activities—but we promise not to drone on.”
I need it… when the moon is bright
I need it… when you hold me tight
I need it… in the middle of the night
I need your HONEY LOVE
Help us save the honey bees!!
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