Across the globe urban beekeepers are popping up, more cities is the USA are legalizing the keeping of bees and the Mayor of London has set aside £ 42 000 for urban beekeeping projects. Bees are being kept on top of hotels, museums and opera houses, in back gardens in suburbia and on the roofs of businesses.
The rise of urban beekeeping is no coincidence; it is a direct response to the plight of bee colonies in rural areas. In 2006 a mysterious phenomenon started to occur where entire colonies of bees started to disappear, leaving no trace of their existence. While conclusive research has yet to come to light, the signs are pointing strongly towards pesticides and insecticides as well as feeding bees’ high fructose corn syrup (This is fed to the bees to keep them from starving when there is no pollen around). In China this is old news, for two decades orchards have been pollinated by human hand, their bee colonies collapsed due to over harvesting their honey as well as the heavy use of pesticides. One third of our food is pollinated by insects, and thus we are at great risk of increasing starvation if we do not change the way we grow food and the way that we treat bees.
In London, the main concerns surrounding urban beekeeping is the rate at which beehives are being established. Many beekeepers are amateurs, which could potentially threaten the livelihood of the bees. The London Beekeeping Association is also concerned that there will soon be insufficient food for the bees and is encouraging the Mayor of London to use the money allocated for beekeeping projects to plant pollen producing plants.
In Cape Town, urban beekeeping is on the rise. I have come across three projects all over the city, encouraging awareness, education, employment and sustainable honey production. At the beginning of last year seven Cape Townian’s from the Cape Flats completed their training in urban beekeeping, equipping them with the skills to keep bees, produce, sell and market their honey; Cape Flats Honey. Towards the end of 2012 the cities first urban beehive operation was established on a rooftop in District Six. Marine and Derek Williams have also planted a rooftop garden in donated paint containers to ensure the bees have sufficient food. In the Southern Suburbs, another couple is getting their hands sticky, producing raw untreated honey and selling it at their local market. Garderner’s Glory collects honey from various gardens in the suburbs, and bottles it according to where it came from, real single origin honey.
Click on the links to learn more about the various projects and how you can get some of their delicious produce.