What is this site for ?

To increase the number of urban hives, by linking beekeepers looking for hive space, with organisations and individuals who have suitable space, such as in gardens or on flat roofs.

Why do we need honey bees ?

Is has been reported that Albert Einstein once said ..

"If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live."

While this may not be 100% accurate, it is fair to say that the honey bee is responsible for the pollination of a vast number of fruit and vegetable crops worldwide.

Although many insects help with the pollination of crops, according to a UN report "Of the 100 crop species that supply 90% of the world's food, bees pollinate more than 70%".

Apples, broccoli, cucumbers, nuts, pears, raspberries, strawberries are just a few of the crops which rely on the honey bee.

Looking into the hive
Checking inside the hive. The beekeeper has carefully placed one frame over the remainder of the hive. This helps to keep the bees calm, as the frames below are kept in the dark.
© Willie Bee.

Honey Bee Decline

Over recent years there has been a serious reduction in the honey bee population. Scientists and beekeepers have given the problem a name Colony Collapse Disorder

Some of the reasons for this population decline are :-
• The Varroa mite, a small blood sucking parasite affecting bees, including their larvae.
• Disease, some being spread by the Varroa mite.
• Loss of bee friendly habitats such as hedgerows and wild meadows.
• Extensive farming techniques, including the practice of monoculture.
• Cold weather, especially when cold winds and late frosts follow early spring warmth.
• Use of certain insecticides, containing neonicotinoids.

Urban Hives

An American rooftop beekeeper
An American beekeeper starts to check his hives on this San Francisco rooftop.
© Charlie B. Permission granted to use this image.
Although perhaps a surprise to the layperson, bees from urban hives actually do extremely well. In fact, they very often do better than their rural cousins. One reason is believed to be the abundance and more importantly, the diversity of plants found in our parks and gardens.

The variety of pollen and nectar available from flowers, vegetables, trees and herbs, is not only good for the bees, helping their immune system, it is also known produce a better quality of honey.

Bees can fly up to 3 miles from their hives to forage, so hives in city centres, perhaps far from any gardens, are still classed as a very worthwhile exercise, in the overall scheme of things.

Around the world, 'backyard bees' as the Americans say, has proven very popular, especially in the USA, Canada, Australia and France. It has been reported that "Paris is fast becoming the queen bee of the urban apiary world." If others can do it, so can we. Without new urban hives, the bee population will surely continue to fall.

How can I help ?

With the bee population in serious decline, it is hoped urban beekeeping will prevent further loss.

Urban hives can be placed in a variety of locations with great success. The obvious places are private gardens or on top of the many flat roofs found in most towns and cities. Bees on church roofs seem to do very well, but of course this may be due to divine intervention, Hotels, shops and offices are also popular with city rooftop beekeepers, as long as there is suitable access. Houses with roof gardens are perfect.

Although not widely known, many famous buildings already have rooftop hives. Their owners are obviously keen to help the honey bee population. Just a few of these buildings are listed below.

Buckingham Palace, London
Clarence House, London
Fortnum and Mason, London
Natural History Museum, London
The Mansion House, London
St. Pancras Church, London
The Stock Exchange, London
Fenwick's Department Store, Newcastle
Manchester Cathedral
The Mind Centre, Grimsby
Nottingham Trent University
Quorum Business Park, Newcastle
St. John the Baptist Church, Newcastle
Warrington Shopping Centre

How this site can help ?

Many a potential new beekeeper is put off, quite simply because they have no suitable spot to put a hive. Even experienced beekeepers, who already have hives are prevented from expanding due to space restraints. This is a great shame, as the bees need as many new sites as possible.

Other people, businesses and various organisations have access to the perfect spot for a hive, but are unable to look after the bees themselves. The perfect solution is therefore to try and match up the two.

A register will be kept in the Hive Space section, showing available hive sites as well as a list of site requests.

If an organisation or individual is keen to help, but no obvious match is available, sponsoring a hive is an option. We can use our contacts with local bee clubs and organistions to find a suitably qualified beekeeper willing to assist. For further details see our Contact Us page.

What are the benefits ?

• Saving the honey bee population.
• Better pollination of crops, fruits and flowers.
• Increased honey production.
• Knowledge and enjoyment .. just watching bees at work can be fascinating.
• Publicity, sometimes possible, when a new rooftop hive is installed on a city centre roof.

Will I get stung ?

Most beekeepers get stung, but this usually happens when they are inspecting the hive. Surprisingly, the bees do not always take kindly to having their home dismantled, but even then, they usually try to refrain from stinging. This is because a bee will die, shortly after releasing its stinger.

With careful placement of the hive, accidental stings can usually be prevented, or at least kept to an absolute minimum. Please refer to the section on Hive Location for more information.

How do I register ?

Go to the Contact Us section of this site.