THERE'S A BUZZ ABOUT PARIS...
Paris is a-buzz with bees, and its honey is supposed to be some of the finest in the world, due to the remarkable diversity of flowers available to its creators. The city boasts some 600 beehives, which is 15 beehives per square mile. Some are found on the balconies of Parisian apartments, whilst others are in public parks and on the roofs of famous buildings.
There are several beehives to be found on the roofs of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Ecole Militaire and the Opera House. Even Louis Vuitton, on the Champs-Elysees, has some golden guests. These highly desirable residences are offered up to some of Paris’ most well-known beekeepers, and their booming bee colonies, in an attempt to offer refuge to the city’s much-loved honey bees.
Notre-Dame cathedral has hosted a busy beehive on its roof since 2013, with its mission to preserve the dynamic biodiversity of the French capital. The clergy of the famous cathedral urge city-dwellers to reflect upon the beauty of creation and our fundamental responsibility towards nature, as custodians of the Earth.
Placing bees in such an urban environment draws attention to the more serious problem that bees now struggle to thrive in the countryside. Intensive farming and the prolific use of pesticides pose a very significant threat to honey bees, and so paradoxically cities have become their refuge.
Consequently, Paris is fast becoming a honey-bee paradise. For the past 10 years the French capital has been a pesticide-free zone, joining Copenhagen and Seattle among the major cities around the world that have stopped using pesticides in their parks and public spaces.
In addition to being pesticide-free, Paris drips with flowers, many of which are in bloom year round. Parks are filled with bee-friendly Acacia, Chestnut and Lime trees, and honey samples can count as many as 250 different types of pollen, compared to perhaps the 15 or 20 that might be found in countryside-honey.
Unlike in the countryside where forage may be seasonal, the bees in Paris can forage nearly all year round. Dependable warm weather throughout the summer months also makes for an ideal environment for the bees, allowing them to make best use of the wealth of flowers available to them.
It is an unwelcome paradox that city bees now fare better than country bees. However, the many beekeepers of Paris do a phenomenal job of providing urban refuge for bees, and educating city-dwellers about the bee’s essential role in the wellbeing of our planet. Support them by spreading the word about the importance of bees, and perhaps by spreading some pure, organic honey on your toast.