Beekeeping In Ginza, Tokyo, Next To Gucci And Apple Store

beekeeping ginza japan photo

Ms. Yamamoto, a happy beekeeper in Ginza Tokyo, from the Ginza Honeybee blog

I was really surprised to learn that beekeeping is illegal in New York. I had assumed that this amazingly eco-friendly hobby was not only popular, but also actively encouraged in the Big Apple.

Here in Tokyo, the Ginza district is famous for its trendy stores, like the Matsuya department store, Gucci or the best Apple Store in the world. Land is famously expensive. Yet, here on the rooftop of the most urbanized area in Japan, an NPO, Ginza Mitsubachi Project started beekeeping and has succeeded in keeping some 150 thousand bees with 260kg of honey gained each year. The honey is used in sweets by a famous confectionary shop that can be bought only in Ginza, and they were so popular that it took little time to be sold out.

ginpachi tokyo ginza honey photo

Photo of Ginpachi Honey from the Shizenmura blog

Farm Aid in Ginza is an event to bring locally produced vegetables and foods to the center of Tokyo this summer. The beekeepers from Ginza (銀座)will take part in the Enjoy Eco event. For any New Yorker reading this, it might be similar to having a "Wall Street" brand honey for sale.

honey japan image

Photos from Blueberry Farmers T&F;

"Tokyo is a paradise for honeybees," Seita Fujiwara says to Asahi, adding the absence of both natural enemies such as bears, and manmade hazards, such as crop dusting with pesticides, makes urban centers like Tokyo an ideal breeding ground:

Seita Fujiwara, an apiarist from Iwate Prefecture who has been involved in setting up bee hives in central Tokyo, says the population of nonprofessional beekeepers nationwide is probably 10 times the number registered with authorities. Fujiwara, 52, has been advising shopkeepers and others in Tokyo's Ginza district in setting up a bee farm atop a building in the posh shopping district. Honey produced by the bees has been used to make pound cakes and other sweets sold at patisseries and confectionaries in Ginza.

The Matsuya department store in Ginza is supporting the Ginza honey bee project by giving the bees access to Matsuya's rooftop garden. Ginza Green is part of the company's efforts to take action on environmental issues. "Greening" rooftops has become a trendy way in Tokyo's urban areas.

The Matsuya project is run by about 30 Matsuya employees who tend to the urban patch as an after-work volunteer activity, according to The Japan Times:

"It is great to see people becoming more aware of environmental issues. Each person takes action and hopefully that will spread to other people," said Shinpei Kono, who heads the project team.

I still don't understand why beekeeping would be illegal in New York, and if there are no good reasons, let's hope City Council member David Yassky's bill to abolish the ban will pass.

More Beekeeping:
Photo Essay: Bees and Beekeepers In Crisis
White House Garden to Feature Bee Hives Too
Installing a Bee Hive: A Nervous Beginners' Experiences
150,000 Honey Bees Descend On Central Tokyo
Urban Beekeepers Fight to Lift Bee Ban in New York City

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