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Eric WardEric Ward

Michaela Šrubařová  2. 6. 2021

Bee Path – How to bring bees back to cities?

Ljubljana, Slovenia, came up with an interesting idea to show urban residents the importance of pollinators. They bet on a practical demonstration and a place where people can learn everything important and interesting about bees. Initially, it was just about the path supporting urban beekeepers. Today, however, more and more cities are getting involved, and there is even a new BeePathNet initiative trying to bring urban beekeeping to other European cities.

The opening of the Bee Path dates back to 2015. At this time, an educational path was created in the center of Ljubljana, connecting important points linked to the history of beekeeping in this city. At the same time, it tries to make people aware of the role of bees as such, their connection to food security, and interesting facts about honey. The project also aims to involve schools through educational programs, beekeepers, and non-profit organizations. Thanks to their cooperation, interesting public events such as Honey Day or workshops are organized. People can meet local beekeepers there. It also promotes World Bee Day, which is celebrated every year on 20 May. It allows beekeepers to showcase the benefits and qualities of local honey, which has become a popular delicacy in the city, not only among locals but also among tourists.

Why was the project born in Ljubljana?

“Europeans Green Capital 2016”

One of the reasons is that Ljubljana is one of the greenest cities in Europe, which the award of “Europeans Green Capital 2016” proves. It is mainly due to the large proportion of rural areas forming the territory of the capital. There are still original meadows and forests there. 20% of them have been declared as natural protected areas. The current green city concept also seeks to promote self-sufficiency, organic farming, and the cooperation of these principles with the urban space.

The benefits of bees in a city

Even in cities, there should be a lot of greenery to make a thermally comfortable city. All trees, shrubs, and flowers need care from their natural friends. Bees are important not only for their ability to pollinate, without which we would grow almost no food. They also produce honey. And honey from urban plants can be just as good as from the forest. Living in the city can be an advantage for bees from the point of view that urban greenery is not treated against pests. So bees are not at risk of pesticide poisoning. Therefore, bees contribute to maintaining biodiversity and increasing self-sufficiency.

Green roofs and bees

A tempting idea is to combine urban beekeeping with the new trend of green roofs. It is this space that offers bees a safe shelter in the city area. Beehives are also being built in public spaces to create an even better environment for bees. The hives in Ljubljana, for example, are all-wood, have their small green roof, and are designed to respect the requirements of urban space. The character of Ljubljana is suitable for beekeeping, but many European cities have these prerequisites. They just have not been discovered yet.

Michal Šperling

The project quickly gained popularity in Ljubljana. Gradually, the Bee Path and the number of hives in the city grew until they became a tourist attraction for visitors to Ljubljana. Today, it is an international project operating in five European countries, exploring the impact of different natural conditions on urban beekeeping. The cities involved in the BeePathNet project are Cesena in Italy, Bydgoszcz in Poland, Amarante in Portugal, District XII of Budapest, and Nea Propontida in Greece. The authors want to develop the project further and incorporate new ideas for improvement and expansion.

More information atURBACT.

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