City Bees Go to Church in London and Get Saved

st-pauls bees photo

Image from the Times

The plight of the bumblebee is a matter of great concern. Their numbers are declining, some species are on the brink of extinction and colony collapse disorder has spread in the U.S. Albert Einstein may (or may not) have said that "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live."

The City of London is celebrating bees by putting hives on the roof of 8 different buildings, including historic ones such as St. Paul's Cathedral and the Museum of London. The summer Festival's theme is natural and cultural biodiversity and along with the bees they will even have poets reciting bee poems.

An urban beekeeping expert and his team are training volunteers at each site to take care of the bees. The Poetry of Bees will feature new work from distinguished poets on the subject of you know what. The Bishop of London will lecture on "A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey." Of course, Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee will be performed.

festival london photo

Image by B. Alter: Opening Ceremony at the Honey House

The opening ceremonies, in the Honey House of course, featured a ceremonial squeezing of honey comb by an artist, accompanied by music from a French cellist. The Honey House is a structure without walls or a roof, but in a park filled with City workers having lunch, it is an intimate space, and a home for a colony of bees.

On a more sober note, England's bees are vanishing faster than anywhere else in Europe, with more than half of hives dying out over the last 20 years. Butterflies and other insects are also in decline due to habitat loss and climate change. The problem is so serious that the Insect Pollinators Initiative in the U.K. has been granted £10M to study the reasons behind the decline of the bee population. They will be bringing together scientists and academics from a number of different disciplines to approach the problem from different aspects.

laurent geslin photo

Image from Mail Online by Laurent Geslin

The University of Bristol will be studying bio-diversity in several cities to see how they can make cities more bee-friendly. Another study will examine DNA from wild bees to track how far they fly to start new hives.

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