At The London Beekeeper we have a vision of what Responsible Urban Beekeeping looks like and how that fits into the evolving structure of a healthy, thriving, urban landscape and ecosystem in London [and cities around the world].
It’s a future where cities are greener, healthier and more biodiverse. Where more and more spaces in cities provide habitat and forage for pollinators. Where architects, town planners, land owners, local and national government, the Mayor’s Office, parks, community groups and homeowners all help to make London a more pollinator and people friendly place. Where the landscapes provide beauty, health benefits, food security, and climate change protection. Urban and rural spaces must evolve to better suit us and nature.
The good news is, we’re not alone! There is already huge support coming from all these groups and we’re already seeing exciting changes happening everyday all across the city [and the world]. We think the changes over the next 20 years will be profound and inspiring for future generations.
We believe that urban beekeeping is an important part of this landscape, but gone are the days when responsible beekeepers can plonk hives in any old space and not give something back in terms of the food needed to sustain them or be concerned about the other pollinators around them.
With increasing numbers of hives in cities, now the emphasis for people wanting to keep bees, sell honey or protect pollinators, should be on providing forage planting and habitat improvement as well.
We believe that modern responsible urban beekeeping [and farming] is possible in London and that this is a key part of a thieving and healthy urban ecosystem, urban food system and urban economy. We don’t want a future where we are so heavily reliant on imported, or poor quality or even fake honey.
We believe that only by working with landowners, councils, community groups and businesses can we really help create the pockets of pollinator security [and food security] that are needed all over the capital.
We believe that not only is “responsible urban beekeeping” possible but that, in the long term, it adds redundancy to traditional rural beekeeping [and wildlife] that is under attack from pesticides, over farming, soil erosion and habitat and wildlife loss.
That’s why we are taking the following action:
- Promoting “Responsible Urban Beekeeping” as best practice
- We are engaging with clients to improve their forage and habitat at their sites
- We promote low density hive numbers
- We are changing our business model to allocate roughly 50% of our time to forage improvement
- We have already started a number of greening projects across the city
- We have said goodbye to clients that don’t want to be part of this journey
- We work with world leading greening partners to provide the spaces our clients, their bees and local pollinators need
- We only [occasionally] take on new clients – where they can provide a forage and habitat surplus. If they don’t currently have this infrastructure in place [and have the space] we can help them add it
- We have turned down many thousands of pounds worth of new contracts where sites can’t provide a forage and habitat surplus
- We can advise enquirers on how they can help pollinators in direct and in-direct ways. We can also find responsibly farmed honey from our list of trusted producers
- We are in the process of creating funding systems to allow any one that wants to donate to our greening and “pockets of pollinator security” projects
To have real change in London for pollinators [and us!] the best things we can do are provide forage and habitat improvement. To achieve this we think the following needs to happen:
- Councils, parks and public spaces to [vastly] review planting choices and move towards more beneficial pollinator planting
- Further [and more specific] greening legislation on new builds
- More and more greening and de-paving projects to turn grey to green
- Home owners to provide beneficial planting and habitat – Millions of you are already doing this!!!
- And much much more…..
We believe the future is bright – but that only by engaging whole heartedly with the issues and with “big” land owners can we really make the huge changes that are needed.
London is only at the beginning of a journey towards food and pollinator security, climate change resilience and the beautiful, greener, healthier capital we could all benefit from and enjoy.
If we work together amazing things are possible!