04/27/22 It is Important to Keep the Ban on Urban Beekeeping!

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Animal Friends Croatia appeal to the City of Zagreb to increase the number of green areas

- The survival of endangered wild bees depends on the pollination of plants and the conservation of biodiversity.

Animal Friends Croatia sent a note to the City of Zagreb in which they call for maintaining the very justified ban on beekeeping in Zagreb and to increase the number of plant seedlings in urban gardens and other green areas that pollinators love. „This way we would attract wild bees and other pollinators into the city, thus creating diversity, and planting trees, shrubs and flowering vegetation, as well as moderate mowing of meadows, also benefit the coexistence with small birds, crows and insects”, Animal Friends Croatia report.

They point out that the pollination of 90 percent of plant species and 75 percent of agricultural crops in the world depends on bees and other pollinators, and in our climate, the most important pollinators are insects, primarily wild bees. However, approximately one out of 10 bee species in Europe is threatened with extinction, especially the wild solitary bees that have a key role in pollinating fruit trees and other cultivated plants and in preserving biodiversity. In particular, while a honey bee can visit up to 2.000 flowers per day, solitary bees visit even up to 5.600 flowers per day! Regardless of that, wild solitary bees are endangered as most initiatives are focused on honey bees.

„Random initiatives to encourage urban beekeeping we find inept and insufficiently thought out as this will not increase the number of bees in the city. Urban beekeeping increases the number of bees on a short-term basis up to the level at which hives become competition for each other’s food. The reason for this is the small number of wild meadows and wildflowers in the city, those being the main food source for bees and other pollinators. Therefore, the main reason for the decline in the number of bees in the world is monocultural agriculture and lack of vegetation diversity, and not the lack of beekeepers and hives”, Animal Friends Croatia explains.

They also warn of the danger of spreading infection from sick hives to healthy ones during beekeeping, where all infected hives are burned. Aside from that, beekeeping in the city poses a potential danger and health threat. A honey bee sting is poisonous and dangerous for people who are allergic to it. Unlike them, wild bees are known for their peacefulness – they do have a sting but do not use it.

„Because of the awareness on the importance of solitary bees’ protection, other cities have excellent initiatives that should also be implemented in Zagreb”, Animal Friends Croatia believes. For example, last year in Šumarska škola Karlovac (School of Forestry in Karlovac) arboretum the first bee hotel was created, a dwelling of several types of perforated materials imitating the natural habitat for insects that do not have sufficient space for wintering and breeding in the cities. This will secure nesting sites for solitary bees and is also helping arising awareness of the importance of pollinators for ecosystem stability.

To increase biodiversity, a legal obligation was introduced in the English city Brighton, as per which every new residential building above five meters must have special bricks with a number of narrow holes securing nests for solitary bees. Similar policies were adopted also by other cities in the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands, in Utrecht, about three hundred bus stops received green roofs, their plants create a new sanctuary for various bee species. Utrecht motivates its residents to create a small urban green oasis on their roofs and provides funds and incentives for them. In Vienna, for the purpose of preservation of wild bees, it is recommended avoiding using of insecticides.

Animal Friends Croatia concludes that beekeeping is actually an intentional mass bee breading and there is really no place for this in the city. That is why the provided examples can provide proper guidelines for further development of Zagreb making it a modern city striving for sustainable development and serving as an example for other Croatian cities as to how to preserve biodiversity and nurture coexistence with bees and other wild insects in the city.

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