A few days ago, I stumbled across these… things… while taking a walk in Lyon. One of the best things about living in an urban environment is stumbling across stuff like this all the time. It’s reassuring to find signs of human creativity and positive thinking, especially when you’re not looking for it!
But this isn’t some kind of art project (though there’s nothing wrong with that), these are beehives! And, coincidentally, I read something about them in some local newsletter that was sitting on the table today during lunch. This style beehive is springing up all over Lyon as one of many green efforts going on here. I need to do some more investigation (and some more neighborhood walking!), but I thought this project was worth bringing to attention.
Beekeeping is becoming borderline trendy right now, and it’s a good thing. Maybe it was only a matter of time before bees became part of hipsterdom… after all, they have long been known for making excellent beards. But while it seems they are a well-predicted next hipster trend, and trendiness is often very short-lived, we really need bees around… forever, not just for now.
I don’t know whether or not these bees were “planted” by hipsters, but this does seem like a good idea. For one thing, this particular spot is a super ugly patch of ground by what looks like an abandoned building (or at least one where one wall is falling down, which is not necessarily the same thing here–some of the bridges in this area date from Roman times)–you might as well put bees here. It’s not big enough for a (human) house or most other forms of animal husbandry, but bees fit nicely.
I’ve heard of similar programs in the UK and the US, but I really do not know if we have significant results yet from these hives. Most seem to be in the early stages so it would be unrealistic to have great statistics already. While it is absolutely vital to provide habitat for bees in the face of more and more colony collapse disorder, I wonder how much this will relate to bees pollinating major food supplies, which seems like one of the more critical areas to be concerned about in light of CCD.
At the same time, clearly more urban bees will only help urban farming efforts. While a lot of people have phobias about bees or bee swarms, bees are not actively going to try to hurt anybody (though of course they may react defensively). The biggest issue facing most of these urban beehive projects is probably funding and maintenance, not mean bees.
Notice the little log near the base of this herb spiral in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo–just enough room for some bees! This nice little space isn’t a solution to every sustainability problem. However, it is a nice example of some thoughtful design to create and enhance interrelationships between mutually beneficial species–the herbs, the bees, and the people tending to all of this. Here are a few links to learn more:
- URBANBEES – the organization responsible for this spot [in French, but English version available if you click on the “English version” link right under the title at the top-right of the page]
- Urban Bees – UK version of a similar idea
- Urban Bee Company – [US] they will come install urban bees for you
- Urban Bee Network – Canada