The BTC Company and the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association have joined forces to promote urban beekeeping, help preserve the Carniolan honey bee and raise awareness on the importance of bees for the environment. Today, Slovenia’s native Carniolan honey bees got a new home on the meadow next to Atlantis Water Park. Four beehives house four bee families, which may at the apex of their development number as many as 50,000 bees, with each family producing as much as 18 kg of honey per year on average. These honey bees will also make an important contribution to plant pollination in the area of BTC City Ljubljana and its environs, thereby helping to maintain biodiversity in the area.
The project called “Help the city bee” has come to fruition within the larger scope of the initiatives “Save the bees” and “Mission: Green”, with which the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association and the BTC Company respectively strive for a healthy and nature-friendly environment. Urban beekeeping is no novelty and the roofs of world capitals have housed beehives for decades, but it has only recently found its way into Slovenia. After the deaths of numerous bee families a couple of years ago, even greater care should be taken to preserve the native Carniolan honey bee.
The phrase “urban beekeeping” might raise some eyebrows, since beekeeping in cities is said to be impossible, some think that the bees will be short on food sources, endanger people etc., but there is really no need to worry. The city harbours plenty of plants – in city parks, on city greens, tree-lined avenues, etc. – where bees can find the pollen and nectar they need. Usually, these plants are also not sprayed with various insecticides and as such represent a quality food source for the bees. The bees also do not fly around threatening unsuspecting passers-by. They find a food source in their vicinity and commit to foraging the plant’s nectar and pollen. A forager is hardly inclined to sting anyone if left alone. It happens only on rare occasions, if we accidentally tread on it or squeeze it, for example, since the sting is the bee’s natural defense mechanism.
A special part of the “Help the city bee” project focuses on young people. Hoping to awaken an interest in beekeeping among the younger population (the average age of beekeepers is 50), students of primary schools in Ljubljana and its immediate vicinity can take part in a contest that consists of two parts – the spring part, which start in April, and the autumn part. In April, primary schools will be invited to plant honey plants, put various potted flowers on their windowsills and generally make the environment as bee-friendly as possible. The primary school that manages this best will be awarded a beehive for educational purposes.
At the beehive opening ceremony Jože Mermal, president of the BTC Management Board, said: “With this project, which has been developed in partnership with the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, we continue to strive towards a socially responsible and nature-friendly sustainable development by pursuing various “green actions”. The endangered status of the Carniolan honey bee has inspired us to take these steps in order to help preserve the bee also in the urban environment. That is why we embarked on another “Mission: Green”, called “Help the city bee”, which we are especially proud of due to the importance of bees for all of us.”
“An educational beehive in an urban environment will make an important contribution to developing an interest in beekeeping among the younger population, who will surely take an interest in new knowledge and new skills. The “Save the bee” project, which has also migrated to the city thanks to BTC City Ljubljana, wants to promote an interest in bees among the city youth, increase the number of beekeeping-focused school clubs, encourage the planting of honey plants among the urban population and generally raise awareness on the importance of bees for the environment as well as the importance of maintaining a bee-friendly environment,” stressed Boštjan Noč, president of the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association.
Franc Petrovčič is a beekeeper, who successfully tends to the bees housed atop the “Cankarjev dom” building. He is often faced with people’s doubts concerning the quality of urban honey: “Some people claimed that the honey would be grey and tasteless, so we sent it to Bremen, where they analyzed it. It turns out that the honey contains no heavy metals, which could be a consequence of exhaust gases, and due to the urban environment it also contains no phytopharmaceuticals.”
The project is also supported by Merkur and Gardening centre Kalia in BTC City Ljubljana, as well as Telekom and Simobil. In the shops Merkur and Kalia, customers who buy a honey plant will receive a special coupon, with which they can mark the location of their plant on a web map available at www.ohranimo-cebele.si. By planting honey plants we can all contribute to a more beautiful and high quality environment.
The companies Simobil and Telekom are also willing to help the bees – by sending a text message with the keyword “CEBELA” to 1919, you can donate 1 EUR to the fund for the preservation of the Carniolan honey bee for the purpose of erecting an educational beehive and enabling city kids to set up a genuine relationship with our important friends.
All project partners hope that the urban beehives will develop a lively existence and raise awareness on the importance of bees for our living environment.
Maja Oven, Director of the Market Communications and Public Relations Sector
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