Too many beehives threatening Brussels ecosystem, group warns

Summary

Brussels environmental organisation Apis Bruoc Sella has expressed its concern over the number of domesticated bees being introduced by companies and authorities in the region, usually to enhance their green image

A beehive on every roof

Brussels is now home to too many bees as a result of companies, municipal authorities and other organisations trying to present a more “green” image, according to environmental group Apis Bruoc Sella, which specialises in educating the public about wild and domesticated bees.

“We’re in the process of making catastrophic mistakes,” said the organisation’s co-ordinator Marc Wollast. “Every municipality and association these days wants to have a beehive on the roof or in the garden, but they don’t think about the consequences.”

Those can include, he says, a disruption of the ecosystem for other bees and other insects. “It’s as if people were to buy a cow, although they have no grass in their garden,” Wollast said. Bees need food, and there is not enough for the city’s wild bees at present.

The city’s bee population, estimated at about 55 million, keeps on growing. Last year two hives were placed on the roof of City 2 shopping centre, joining hives on the nearby administrative buildings of the city. The Jette district this week unveiled two new hives, following on from Etterbeek, Molenbeek and Elsene.

“Often it’s a question of greenwashing,” Wollast said. “Companies and organisations want to do something about biodiversity, but that’s a difficult challenge. A beehive is a relatively simple solution, and it’s also popular, since the honey works as a sort of calling card – a way to show off one’s green credentials. Watermaal-Bosvoorde, for example, gives out pots of honey to newlyweds.” Jette now plans to do the same with the product from its hives.

Apis Bruoc Sella is joined in its call for a census of beehives by the environmental organisation Leefmilieu Brussel, which would give a clear picture of the situation. The two groups also support a campaign to encourage companies and others to try other options for improving biodiversity, such as installing green roofs and climbing plants.

Photo: A rooftop beehive maintained by BNP Paribas Fortis in Brussels
Photo courtesy BNP Paribas Fortis

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