Carly Otis

This conversation is closed.

Can urban beehives increase food production?

It has been estimated that somewhere between fifty and ninety percent of the colonies of bees in US beekeeping operations have collapsed from a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This disorder is characterized by the disappearance of bees from a colony, but a lack of dead bodies to explain where they went. Some scientists believe that the culprit is a virus known as the Israeli acute paralysis virus (Cox-Foster et al, 2007). CCD is causing the collapse of bee colonies all over the world, reducing pollination rates, and causing essential food sources to become more scarce and more expensive. Noah Wilson-Rich, a scientist who studies bee diseases, has suggested an easy solution to the problem: urban beekeeping. In his Ted Talk “Every City Needs Healthy Honey Bees”, Wilson-Rich shares that bees are actually surviving better in urban environments than rural ones. He suggests that increasing the number of urban beehives, along with introducing green roofs and urban gardens, will allow food production to begin to increase (while also reducing the prices of many crops). In many cities in the United States it is illegal to have a beehive because people are allergic and/or afraid of bees, but in some countries urban beekeeping is thriving (Paris, France is a great example!). 

Do you think it is possible for the United States to develop an urban beekeeping industry? Would it have enough of a positive outcome to outweigh the downsides of urban beehives?

http://www.ted.com/talks/noah_wilson_rich_every_city_needs_healthy_honey_bees.html
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/318/5848/283.full

Closing Statement from Carly Otis

After much conversation, I think it is safe to say that most people think that urban beehives will have a positive influence on honey bee populations and biological diversity in urban environments. However, many people pointed out that this will not solve the issue of colony collapse disorder that is facing bees. Much more research needs to be done to determine what the true culprit of this phenomenon is (possibilities are neonicotinoid pesticides, varroa mites, Israeli acute paralysis virus, etc), but in the meanwhile urban beehives can help to maintain populations. It was mentioned a few times throughout the conversation that many people will be opposed to the introduction of urban beehives due to the rather large portion of our society that is afraid of and/or allergic to bees. To get around this, many people suggested that schools implement some sort of program to teach the public that honey bees are actually nothing to be afraid of, and that they will only harm you if you harm them. In addition, keeping beehives in places that are out of public view will help to alleviate some issues relating to neighborly disputes and accidental stings. One good technique is to place hives on rooftops, which will force bees to fly at a higher elevation and reduce the amount of bee-human interactions. Another issue with urban beekeeping is that there are much fewer food resources for bees in urban environments than rural ones, so it was decided that an urban beekeeping industry will only be successful in places where urban gardens and/or green roofs are also successful. Overall, it sounds like urban beekeeping has a good chance in the U.S., as long as we begin to educate people about honey bees and how critical they are for food production.

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    May 21 2013: I came across an awesome project in Chicago called Bike-a-Bee. A woman used kickstarter to fund a program where she is installing bee hives in various community gardens across Chicago, which she will maintain by riding her bike to check up on the different hives. What's especially great is the community participation aspect. Before launching the kickstarter, she went and talked to different community gardens, who responded with enthusiasm. Contributors to her campaign will receive raw honey from the hives and other gifts, keeping them involved though their donation is complete. It's a truly community based effort.

    Check out this interview for more information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/bike-a-bee-urban-agriculture_n_1205178.html
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      May 22 2013: This is a great idea! I think that by involving the community like this it helps them to see how the bees are positively impacting their community and they get to prosper from the honey that is also being produced.
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    May 21 2013: I imagine that in addition to the Israeli acute paralysis virus, industrial agriculture is major factor in the disappearance of honey bees and many other pollinators. The extensive use of pesticides on large industrial farms is one way to combat the loss of bees not to mention allowing industrial farms to revert to more natural, small scale style farming. Allowing natural predators to keep pest levels down and biodiversity of plants in and around the farm will allow for more diversification of pollinators too.
    Even though I believe that the EPA is a permitting agency, rather than a protection agency, they recently acknowledged the issue of pollinator disappearance in the US. They concluded that many factors are contributing to pollinator decline including:" inadequate food sources (nutrition), diseases (bacteria, fungi and viruses), habitat loss and bee management practices, as well as pesticides."
    Urban and local farming is the answer to food security and food justice around the world. Education on the value of diversity of our gardens and the food on market shelves is needed, because at this rate we won't always have the options we do today.

    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/strategic-plan.html
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    Jon Cox

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    May 21 2013: Urban beekeeping is already pretty popular with backyard farmer types and is in fact legal in most places in the U.S. Just in the last few years bans on bees have been lifted in cities all over the country. New York City, for example, legalized beekeeping in 2010 (1). Some cities continue to keep bees out but their numbers are dropping. This website provides a wall of shame displaying cities and areas that still prohibit beekeeping (2).

    Maybe someone mentioned this already, but urban farming laws here in Eugene, OR were recently modified and it is now perfectly legal to maintain not 1 but 3 apiaries on your property in city limits as long as you meet certain care guidelines (3). In addition to bees, we can now have goats, pigs, and more rabbits or chickens than before.

    As personal and community gardens become more common and people wise up about what they are eating and discover the joys of growing one's own food, adding bees to the mix is a totally logical step. More bees in the city = more productive gardens for everyone within range of the hive. It makes a lot of sense.

    As for downsides of urban beekeeping... are there any? One article (4) warns that there may be dangers.. so adequate education and regulation are a must, but otherwise I hope to see urban beekeeping and gardening rise together in popularity.

    1. http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/blogs/bees/legalized-beekeeping
    2. http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/blogs/bees/illegal-urban-beekeeping-0602
    3. http://www.registerguard.com/web/news/sevendays/29471508-41/animal-ordinance-six-council-residents.html.csp
    4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/6016980/The-dangers-of-amateur-urban-beekeeping.html
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      May 21 2013: It would be cool to see cities make an initiative for bee keeping. Like have a specific number of bee farms that would be beneficial to that area and pay people so much extra per year, or give a tax break to those keeping bees on their property. I think that it would make bee populations increase in cities and make people more aware that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. And that bees are not to be feared but honored for the job they do pollinating our plants.
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        Jon Cox

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        May 21 2013: Yeah that's a great idea. It could definitely by argued that urban bees provide a great service to residents and improve quality of life in cities, it would make sense that a city would offer some sort of incentive for keeping them. There are plenty of tax breaks out there for agriculture, such as livestock, etc., but in most (but not all) places it seems that bees are excluded. A couple years ago Lee County, FL categorized bees as livestock and so beekeepers would receive agricultural exemptions on their property taxes. Of course many people complained, worried that the county would lose too much money and because bees are relatively easy to keep, people would abuse the statute and just keep bees for the tax breaks. I believe that beekeepers had to be able to prove that they were actually making money from their bees to receive the credit.

        I think people are starting to see bees differently, but ignorance and baseless fear are still a huge problem. It makes no sense to be afraid of insects :] Very few can actually hurt you and the rest simply make life on earth possible.

        http://www.nbc-2.com/story/15271243/bees-giving-landowners-sweet-tax-breaks
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        May 21 2013: I like the idea of giving a tax break to people who have beehives on their property, however I think that is really far off in the future if it ever happens. It definitely makes sense though! The government subsidizes a lot of different types of food, it would only make sense to subsidize the one thing that allows food production to occur at all. They should, at the very least, be implementing some sort of protection for the bees since they are so important to us.
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          May 21 2013: I would like to think that it doesn't have to be that far off in the future. I think the first step would be informing the general population about the benefit of bees and that they do not need to be feared. We could start teaching kids the basic importance about bees in elementary school and get more in depth in high school. I think getting more people aware of what is going on would be the first step and then with enough people on board the government will have to follow our lead.
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        May 21 2013: Also, as I saw from an urban farm yesterday, honey bees are not aggressive unless provoked. If we create urban beehives that are thriving, pollinating, managed and controlled correctly, most likely these bees will be "high on nectar" as someone once said, and won't even worry about us pesky humans. They'll be focusing on their goal of pollination, and if we provide the flowers, crops, etc that they need, which would be the goal, they'd be doing their jobs and no bothering us, benefiting society and nature.
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          May 22 2013: That is an important realization, that honey bees are essentially totally harmless unless forced to defend themselves. Stinging is a very expensive thing for a honey bee to do considering that it results in their death!

          And I bet you already know this but just for fun I will clarify that pollination is not the goal of bees or other pollinator species. Over time plants have devised ways to convince or just trick animals into helping them reproduce and disperse. The goal of the bee is to obtain nectar and pollen, and it fertilizes flowers inadvertently as it does so.
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      May 21 2013: This information about urban bee keeping in the US is very encouraging. I think the most important factor to keep in mind as this movement proliferates cities across the US is public acceptance/approval. By educating people about the benefit bees provide and ensuring adequate regulation/enforcement of urban hives, I think this movement can have successful outcomes. This delicate balance of ecological benefit and public consent must be maintained at all costs because it only takes one lawsuit from an outraged citizen for a city to start banning urban bee keeping. Overall, this is an awesome concept and I hope it experiences successful implementation and longevity.
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        May 22 2013: Unfortunately public consent is the limiting factor of progress in a lot of these environmental/ecological issues, isn't it?

        :)

        But then again there are things like the Belo Monte dam project that go ahead without public consent, and that is really scary...

        It takes time to introduce ideas and change minds, I suppose.
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      May 22 2013: The only real downside that I can think of for urban beekeeping, especially in its early stages are the lack of regulation leading to issues like you pointed out. In London there has been a recent boom of urban beekeeping which has led to a huge increase in the number of individuals and hives in the population. The increase has been so great and so rapid that experts there now fear that the bees may soon run out of suitable food sources (1). Like you said though, this issue would be easy to fix if educated, strict regulations were placed on how many bees are allowed within a particular area.

      1)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224640/Urban-beekeeping-Not-food-popular-trend-doubles-population.html
  • May 22 2013: Dont know if anyone has posted this yet. National Geographic did an article about about a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Biology. In the study the researchers showed that an exposure to certain pesticides inhibited the bees memory and communication skills (waggle dance). Both memory and communication are crucial for pollination and the bees survival. If either is affected than pollination rates and bees ability to survive could be effected. Interesting read.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130213-honeybee-pesticide-insect-behavior-science/
    http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2013/02/04/jeb.083931.abstract.html?papetoc
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      May 22 2013: The study you brought up is interesting and I hadn't heard of this phenomena before. This could potentially be a reason why bees aren't thriving as well in the U.S. It would be interesting to compare the effects of pesticides from different areas where bees are not doing well to places where they are thriving. This could show if our pesticides are a large contributing factor to the bees population collapse.
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      May 22 2013: I think pesticides really need to be looked into more, not just for bees but for other pollinators too. Pesticides are good in that they kill the pests that would normally harm or destroy crops. But pesticides can also kill the good organisms that crops benefit from.

      Unfortunately it seems as though there is not just one cause of CCD. TIME magazine posted an article online that says, along with pesticides, things that cause CCD are several viruses, a parasitic mite, and a bacterial disease. While hopefully the pesticides that do cause CCD will eventually not be used, viruses, mites and bacteria are much harder to treat in bees.

      http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/
    • May 22 2013: In a Nat Geo article called "The Plight of the Honeybee", the author compares CCD in bees to HIV/AIDS in humans: AIDS isn't what kills you, it is the opportunistic ailments that take hold when your immune system is low. So what if CCD is similar? I think that it is extremely important to find out what causes the change in the honeybee colony that inevitably leads to its demise. Could it be pesticides altering behavior and physiology in the bees be that?

      The EU just recently banned the pesticide thought to be the major contributor to honeybee declines, neonicotinoids, for two years. Bees exposed to neonicotinoids have been found to have an increased amount of nosema, a gut parasite. If worker bees' lives are reduced - even by a couple of days - that can have a huge effect on colony production, potentially leading to the failure of it.

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130510-honeybee-bee-science-european-union-pesticides-colony-collapse-epa-science/
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    May 22 2013: Just to add some prospective to this topic, and not to say increasing the number of urban, suburban and rural beehives is not important.
    But with nearly 20,000 known species of bees plus other insects that pollinate, some of the clams of disaster if we loss Honey bees are exaggerated.
    Right now I can look at a flowering bush and I see over a dozen types of bees, the ground/miner bees season does not start to around July. (I know this because I have a colony in my pole-barn, that emerge every year after the spring rains.)

    I just discovered bee house, so helping solitary bees looks to bee as simple as placing a bee house in your garden.
    Here a good Video on them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhM3kugXTEU
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      May 22 2013: This is a great point, Don. So many different insects contribute to pollination. Appreciating and maintaining pollinator diversity is important.
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      May 22 2013: Your mention of a wide variety of pollinators makes me wonder if any of these insects might cause problems for urban beehives. Africanized honey bees are one insect variety I can think of that might cause problems. They are known for their more aggressive behavior and have the ability take over European honey bee hives. I think this more aggressive behavior may also be responsible for some of the negative stigmas associated with bees. The possibility of urban beehives being overtaken by this more aggressive variety of honeybee should definitely be considered and strategies to combat unwanted invasions should be devised.
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        May 22 2013: This is interesting, it never occurred to me that some types of honey bees might be more territorial and might actually outcompete other bee species. I think that if urban beekeeping becomes more popular, it will be imperative that the keepers know exactly what kind of bee they have and what influences that may have on natural populations. On top of that, people who aren't very informed about how to keep their bees happy and healthy might actually contribute to the increase in CCD by spreading viruses to other bees in the area. Because of this it will be super important that people are informed about beekeeping before starting a hive.
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    May 22 2013: I think it is possible for united states to legalize the urban bee keeping like make an urban keeping industry because the positive outcome should outweigh the downsides. First of all, just like Noah Wilson-Rich said on TED talk, honey bees have worked for plant pollination for thousand years. It is really important and useful tool for pollination. Now, as the increasing popularity of urban farms or agriculture, urban bees are also necessary. Because urban farms can provide food that without long distance transportation, which are fresh and organic. Urban farms and urban bees should be a part of city.

    Secondly, bees normally do not sting you. Stinging you is the last resort. When people are too close from them, they normally just buzz you and finally when they are scared, they just sting you. Therefore, people can just live friendly with bees. Urban also need biodiversity, need bees.

    I also found a very interesting website with different kinds of urban bees researches. One of them is in San Francisco Bay Area. There are many different bees species and the plants and flowers are attractive to bees. Many researchers and visitors come to see urban bees each year. Bees' pollination makes the city turn to be more beautiful.
    http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/research_regional.html
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    May 22 2013: Yes, I do think it is possible for the U.S to allow urban beekeeping. As we know, honeybees are playing vital role in our ecosystem since they are responsible for pollinating flowering plants and crops. Plants require these process to reproduce, thus the increasing number of urban honeybees will definitely sustain our food supply chain. Many people will consider the downside of urban beehive such as allergic or sting. However, bees seem do pretty well in urban environment. According to bee expert Noah Wilson-Rich, he reported in his article
    (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/cities/urban-beekeeping-keeps-cities-healthy/4768) that 62.5% of urban bees survive the winter compared to only 40% in rural area. The yield of honeybees in urban is also great higher. This phenomenon may due to “mono crop” in rural area, which make bees become “mono pollen diet”. Pollen can provide nutrition to bees in order to maintain good health. Bees in rural area are susceptible to parasites or less pesticide use due to its unbalanced diet. CCD may be one result of this. The variety of plants and flowers in our urban garden, roads can give a potential better chance of survival of bees in urban area. City can provide a rich diversity of pollen to bees and keep them in good health. If we can keep beehive in the appreciate place, such as roof terrace, house garden or an allotment, the downside of bees will be avoided. Currently, there are many designs for urban beehive and I really like the Phillips urban beehive. It is an environmental friendly and sustainable product. It has an entry for bees with flower outside and also contains a glass vessel with honeycomb frame inside. Here is the Phillips urban beehive design: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/sites/philipsdesign/about/design/designportfolio/design_futures/urban_beehive.page
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    May 22 2013: Due to overuse of pesticides in the Maoxian county of Sichuan, China, there are no pollinators for the pear and apple trees. The result is that once a year, thousands of villagers gather to hand pollinate the trees. I imagine this takes a lot more human hours than bee hours.


    http://www.apinews.com/en/news/item/12780-china-hand-pollination
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      May 22 2013: This is a good example of what can happen when we damage the ecosystem services that sustain us.

      Hopefully screw-ups like this (assuming pesticide use was a key contributor to the decline) can be learned from and avoided before they are repeated elsewhere. I wonder if they are able to reintroduce bees to the area or not.
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        May 22 2013: From what I have read, pesticides were used very generously in this region due to strong pest problems, and the resulting degradation of wild pollinators was so profound that they do not pollinate fruit trees at all. This article* says that honey bee keepers are reluctant to bring hives to this region because the farmers are trigger happy with pesticides. Even though human pollination has been going on for two decades in this part of China, it seems they are still spraying pests. That is very strange.

        http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/2011/02/hand-pollination-of-apples-tre.html
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    May 21 2013: The general public has a negative view on bees and i think that this opinion will be hard to change anytime soon. By educating children at a young age about the importance of bees and bee keeping we can encourage communities to create bee gardens or make artificial bee hives. Recycling really took off after it was introduced in classrooms and kids were encouraged to participate, children educate there parents.

    I thought that this was a cool article and project that is being worked on. That brings up the question should we be focused on saving the bees or on technology to replace bees? Researchers at Harvard University have created a robotic bee, called the RoboBee. The machines design was inspired by the biology of a fly, with two wafer-tin wings that flap 120 times per second and is no bigger then a penny. This robot can fly using piezoelectric actuators. The “insect” is pre programed with a flight pattern so that it knows where to fly. While these robots have extremely small parts the researchers have found away to produce the parts in mass quality. The researchers hope that one day the RoboBee will be able to easily pollinate crop fields and conduct search and rescues missions.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502142649.htm
    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/05/robotic-insects-make-first-controlled-flight/
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6132/603
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      May 22 2013: I agreed with you we need more education about bees and their behaviors to youth. I did not get any education about bees as a child. I still have phobia towards bees and not really sure about putting honeybee hives into urban areas because of the fear of general public (include myself). I think we need more research do be done about the causes of CCD. Find out the real problems then we will have more correct solutions to target the problems. As many post and comments mention before, the majority concerned is food and fruit production because some fruit only got pollinated by bees or specific kind of bees.

      The article you found on Sciencedaily is so interesting!! If we scale up the RoboBee maybe we could use it as temporary at massive fruit farms that are suffering from CCD meanwhile do more research about the cause of CCD.
      One interesting idea came up in my mind is that we could design a bee hives with solar panels and put them on building green roof. More on-site energy in urban and created a habitat for biodiversity in urban area also.
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      May 22 2013: I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of a "RoboBee". While it sounds like a really cool gadget, it could have some negative effects for actual bees. For example, if farmers start using them and they end up being a huge success, then bees will be out of a job and will simply be a nuisance for the workers, making the workers more inclined to kill them.
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        May 22 2013: I had the same misgivings about the possibilities of mass-utilization of robotic bees, but they are a cool invention. I doubt they would be cost effective to use as a substitute for biological bees in the near future, though.

        I also completely agree about education being the key to changing societies' view of bees, especially in children, but it would be necessary for adults as well if urban beehives are going to become a reality. Many peoples' fear of bees seems to be the biggest roadblock in that plan, and since it may help a population already stressed by CCD, letting people of all ages know the benefits of bees and the danger they (bees) could be in would be crucial.
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    May 21 2013: It is relatively well-known that bees are also declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation. In some very dense cities, such as New York and San Francisco, it would be incredibly interesting to see a city-wide project done where a certain neighborhood or grouping of city blocks would agree to create green roofs (maybe through some subsidized funds) that incorporated urban food growth and native bee habitat to try and mimic a continuous landscape. Placing the habitats on roofs, particularly at higher elevations in some cities, may encourage involvement from those that fear they could be harmed. Of course, I am not familiar with bees’ preferred elevation, so some strategy would have to go into that. In cities such as Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C., the cities are already providing some incentives through tax subsidies to encourage people to begin green roof projects (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/dining/17roof.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). It would be great to take some of that interest and those funds to look into urban beekeeping and this potential idea of creating a continuous landscape in some areas of town. Of course there would be some fragmentation with the presence of the gaps in roads, but this may be a case where something is better than nothing.
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      May 21 2013: I thought it was interesting that among pesticides, two of the most common contributors to CCD are stresses related to environment change/fragmentation and "migratory beekeeping". Apparently, natural pollinators come nowhere near close to supporting US agriculture on their own. To solve this, professional US beekeeping companies rent out their hives, so that one hive might spend January in California, March in Washington, and May in North Dakota. Beekeepers actually make more money from hive rentals than they do from honey production. However, some research has shown that moving hives all over the country contributes to the spread of mites and viruses between colonies, not to mention the stress that moving places on the hive. I'm not sure what the pollination range of bees is, but I like the idea of placing bee habitats on roofs in cities that are near locations that need extra pollination help (such as near almond trees in California). Then the bees would be kept a bit out of the way of normal foot traffic, but the entire hive wouldn't need to be uprooted every couple of months, hopefully lessening the spread of diseases between colonies.

      Source: Alexi Barrionuevo (27 February 2007). "Honeybees, Gone With the Wind, Leave Crops and Keepers in Peril". New York Times.
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        May 22 2013: Phoebe, this seemed like an excellent idea to me, but then I thought about the negative impacts that putting a beehive on a roof might have. The one downside I can think of would be the heat. As many roofs are shingled, it gets REALLY hot on sunny days. I think then colonies would have to constantly have many bees fanning the hive to try and circulate the hot air out of the hive. This would be energy that could instead be used for pollination instead of thermoregulation.

        Maybe instead of roofs, you could hangs beeboxes from trees? Now I don't know if this would anger the bees because their hives would be moving up and down every few days or so. It also poses the risk of beehives falling from the tree.
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        May 22 2013: It's also interesting that commercially managed honeybee colonies really cannot compensate for the loss of native pollinator communities.... Carvalheiro et al (2011) showed that the productivity of sunflower field was very much dependent on the proximity of natural habitat and on the diversity of the pollinating insects... but totally independent from the distance to managed colonies! Ann brought up a good point in discussion yesterday, which is that displaced and commercially managed honeybees may just be inherently less effective pollinators when introduced to an unfamiliar ecosystem.
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      May 22 2013: I actually found a few articles that talked about locating beehives on roofs to alleviate some of the dangers that people associate with bees. Since these 'dangers' have been exaggerated so much, beekeepers tend to try to keep their hives out of view even though the bees actually pose little to no threat at all. The idea of keeping bee hives on roofs not only keeps the hives out of sight, but it also forces the bees to fly at a higher elevation, preventing any kind of interaction with humans that might result in a sting.

      http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/study-abroad/100626/the-best-honey-paris-comes-the-opera-rooftop
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        May 22 2013: I stand corrected.
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          May 22 2013: Haha, only a little. It seems that overheating of the hive is a big concern for rooftop beekeepers, but it can be easily managed as long as you're able to provide some kind of shade for the hive (something like an umbrella would work nicely), and an adequate supply of water.
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    May 21 2013: It's a very interesting idea that I think still needs a lot of research as to which specific geographical regions are in need of this, what the bee population is in those regions, if CCD is occurring in those regions, and whether or not the public would be open to the idea of keeping urban bees, knowing that there are a lot of people deathly allergic to bee stings (public epipen stations?).

    Not only are bees very important to food product for humans, they are also very important to the overall natural food chain. For example, taking a tour of an "urban farm" the other day there was an urban beehive. Ever so often, birds would fly in and have a buffet of bees. Not only would bees be control by their predators, such as birds, they are important to a healthy food chain that if the bee population is healthy, so is the bird, spider, and many organisms that rely on relatively stable bee population. So the overall impacts of CCD is a scary reality on many social, ecologically, and agricultural levels.

    Heres another great TED talk on about a "Plea for bees" by Dennis Vanengelsdrop
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dennis_vanengelsdorp_a_plea_for_bees.html
    • May 22 2013: Good point about geographical regions where is this a problem. Did you find anything on particular regions where CCD is a problem?
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        May 22 2013: I actually didn't, I'm not sure if there is an actual geographic correlation with CCD. Mostly because there isn't much known about it at all. I think its occurring pretty randomly in terms of geography. It could be consequence due to geographical location, global warming, pesticides, etc who knows. But maybe there is some data that suggests its more common in some places than in other, yet I couldn't find anything that had information. Maybe if we established those regions, it'll make it easier to determine whats casing CCD.
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          May 22 2013: The only kind of geographic correlation that I found had to do with the introduction of varroa mites, which have all sorts of negative influences on honey bees. If I can find the paper that I read I'll give you the link, but from what I remember it sounded like the varroa mites originated from australia (I could be wrong about this though) and CCD has increased in areas where the bees used in beekeeping operations were shipped from australia. I don't personally think that varroa mites are the sole cause of CCD, but I think they significantly reduce the honey bees immune system, making them more susceptible to viruses, so it makes sense that CCD is increasing in areas where varroa mites have been introduced.
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    May 21 2013: 60 minutes did a great piece on CCD back in 2007 that stuck with me because the implications for our agricultural system were shocking. They weren't sure whether insecticides or a virus were the chief cause, and the stresses of encroaching human development also should play a role. One thing for sure was that whatever the cause it inhibits the bee's sense of direction, stopping it from returning to its hive, which is why no dead bees were found. One thing the piece taught me was that beekeepers are paid to drive semis full of bee boxes to orchards and places like that and distribute the bees around for the day to pollinate. Agricultural operations have increased tenfold in size over the last forty years, which puts extra pressure on the bees to perform. My first impression towards urban beekeeping and the associated farming is that it would require deep structural changes to our cities that we are not ready for. Ordinary people should not keep bees, the keepers are stung until further stinging is rendered inert. If we adjusted our agricultural subsidies to encourage families to farm their own produce, however, there may be a place for urban beekeepers who can adroitly deliver the bees on time in a bustling city environment.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-3407762.html
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    May 21 2013: Yesterday at the Urban Farm tour on the University of Oregon campus, our tour guide was showing up a couple of their beehives and they were surprisingly calm. We were only a couple yards away from the bee's nest and they didnt seem to care at all that we were there. He mentioned that each individual bee doesnt have its own emotion, but rather the colony all acts together in their emotions. For example, one bee by itself wont get mad and go after you, but if you upset the entire hive then all of the bees will get mad at once. He also mentioned that in cities like ours where there is a lot of blackberry bushes, the bees will likely be on a sugar high all summer so you could potentially walk right up to their hive and they wouldnt care. I think urban beehives could be a great thing for the urban environment. They seem to be a lot less aggressive than people portray them as. They really wont get mad unless you do something to purposely make them mad. Otherwise they just leave you alone. I think that as long as people understand more about them and how they operate then we all could coexist in the cities rather nicely.
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    May 21 2013: I think that beekeeping is such an amazing skill to have, and I also tend to think of it as a difficult skill to have. This may be because I have never been stung by a bee and have been trying to avoid bees for fear that I may be allergic to them. However, the more I've learned about bees the more I think of beekeeping as any other acquired skill; you've got to learn the ins and outs of how to do it just like anything else. So with that said I really like the idea of urban beekeeping. I don't know if I would personally do it, but there are a lot of people out there who may really like bees but never thought it was possible to beekeep in urban areas. If it can be beneficial for pollination rates and increasing certain food sources, then it may be able to remove some of the negative stigma that surrounds bees.
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      May 21 2013: This is exactly the kind of change in our cultural view that we need. There seems to be a lot of people in the world that are afraid of bees, and this is because of a lack of understanding what they do for us. If we could change this view it would be a huge first step to accepting beehives in urban areas.
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        May 22 2013: There's a lack of understanding what they do for us and also people are afraid of wasps and hornets.When the conversation of bees comes up those are the first ones that come to mind. I think that once people start to understand that honey bees are docile creatures unlike their relatives than they'll lessen their fear of them. It all starts with education.
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          May 22 2013: I think most people have a little background knowledge in the sense that they know bees pollinate flowers. I don't think people know what a huge importance this is because pollen is also associated with allergies, which people also hate. I agree with both of you that some kind of further awareness of just how important pollination by bees is needed. We are using up practically every square inch of usable land for population development. Bees no longer pollinate mostly in woodlands away from the general public, they pollinate right in our backyards. Education is key!
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    May 21 2013: "The Urban Beehive" is a concept that was put forward by Philips in 2011. Check it out: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/sites/philipsdesign/about/design/designportfolio/design_futures/urban_beehive.page

    I think it is useful as an educational tool for understanding bee life, if for nothing else. Maybe if Philips could scale the product up so that it was more than just a personal zoo?

    One of its main selling points is that it looks sexy. While that isn't necessarily a motivator for me to buy it, perhaps the "hip look" of such a product is necessary for bringing in crowds who may not be on board with "messy" outdoor bee keeping.
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      May 21 2013: Wow that is an interesting contraption. They definitely designed the hell out of it to look good, but from what I can tell it seems it has been designed with humans in mind rather than bees. It's a cool idea but appears to be fairly impractical.
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    May 21 2013: I think this is both possible and a great idea. I agree with those who have previously said that it is important for us to also be looking into what the root of the problem is, but feel that the role bees play is so important that maintaining colonies in whatever habitat they will survive in is imperative. From the research I have seen it sounds as if the most likely cause of the collapse is pesticides. Because pesticides impact the worlds biodiversity, the human population, and our agricultural ecosystems in a largely negative way, I personally think we should move away from pesticide use as much as we can. For example reducing pesticide use through supporting urban organic agriculture and small local organic farms. As far as the downsides of urban beehives I don't think that people would really even notice a difference as long as the hives were located in appropriate areas, and as I have always been taught if you don't bother them, they won't bother you.
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      May 22 2013: I agree and think that development and increase in urban beehives is a very intriguing and hopeful idea. Definitely would be a step in the right direction, but I also agree with previous comments that point out it is not necessarily a solution but rather one path to begin to address this massive population collapse. We can’t overlook the fact that there is a much bigger dilemma and we do not have full understanding of the causes behind population collapses or the extent of the implications associated with the population declines. Additionally I feel it is important to look past potential food/pollination decreases and consider what this might say about the overall health of ecosystems. It is always easier stated than solved, but as a community we need to take huge strides to change agriculture practices that are detrimental to biodiversity and healthy/natural interactions amongst organisms.
      On a lighter note here is some local news about bee farming in Eugene and current developments:
      http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/29712235-75/bees-bee-beekeepers-beekeeping-glorybee.html.csp
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    Eun Min

    • +2
    May 21 2013: It is possible, but not sure for the health issues and safety. Yes, honey bees are so important in food production that "A third of all our food is pollinated by honey bees (1)." Without bees, agriculture would not succeed which means no vegetables, fruits, and grains leading increase in prices. Natural honey is widely used as folk medicine that the use of natural honey as a nutraceutical agent is associated with nutritional benefits and therapeutic promises (2). Despite these benefits, having urban beehives might be dangerous (what if one gets stung) or give some people a bad allergic reaction.
    While I was search about honey bee, I found a interesting article (tips on how to start urban bee hive) (3). I am surprised that bees and hives are commercially available to anyone. However, people who want to have urban beehive need to learn how to regulate the bees and protect others from the bees. What if the bees attack people especially children? Honey bees built a hive on my roof two years ago which was scary and the bees tried to attack my family whoever they see near by the hive.

    (1) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57577668/deepening-honey-bee-crisis-creates-worry-over-food-supply/
    (2)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716101
    (3) http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-livestock/bee-keeping/start-beehive.aspx
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      May 21 2013: I spent some time trying to find specific studies about the risks of beekeeping and couldn't find anything good. I appreciate your anecdote but do you know for sure that they were honeybees? Is it possible that they were wasps or yellow jackets? From what I've read, it sounds like honey bees are pretty docile.
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        May 21 2013: I found an article that talks about some risks and how to avoid them. The first aspect they discussed was making sure you have all the legal aspects taken care of before beginning an urban beehive project. Some homeowners insurances do not cover beekeeping and even risk being cancelled, so it is important to address this before getting started. Other possible legal issues could arise from bee waste, which is acidic and will take the paint off cars, sides of houses or stain clothes on a clothes line. Or what if your neighbors dog is stung and has to get medical treatment? Who is liable then? Another point they made that I hadn't considered was the amount of water used by a colony of bees. A colony needs over a gallon of water per day and if you don't provide this then issues could arise from the bees using water sources elsewhere such as peoples pools, birdbaths, sprinklers, etc. However, these seem like minor risks that can be managed by providing the colony with everything they need and locating them in an area that minimizes interactions with people.
        http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/avoiding-urban-beekeeping-problems.aspx#axzz2Twx38nJz
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          Eun Min

          • +1
          May 22 2013: Wow! Thank you for all the information. I haven't heard about the need of water and creating acidic environment! As you pointed out, I worry about being stung especially children and babies.
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      May 21 2013: The possibility of colony infestations is a large problem when homes are living in previously natural environments. However, i think that these installations of bee colonies might help to subdue random colonies from appearing. if we are giving bees a place to congregate especially on high roofs of urban city buildings then they will be more inclined to stay near their colonies and away from other residential areas. Yes they will still be present and could threaten people or children, but these dangers are present for every thing and that's why in cities we would have good regulation of bee colonies and keeping them located in safe locations away from large groups of people and especially children.
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        May 21 2013: I think it’s very important to create a more robust beekeeping industry in the United States. It’s very hard to pin point one key reason for colony collapse disorder due to an assortment of many threatening factors. Multiple factors harm bee colony health creating compounding effects leading to collapse. There is increased loss due to Varroa mite and diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus. These however, might be natural occurrences to keep population sizes in check. The real issues may be from human caused disturbances and pesticide use. Foreign chemicals sprayed on plants and flowers expose bees to poisons causing decreased fitness and physiological problems. Humans also can be blamed for habitat fragmentation as well as habitat loss. Bees may be able to cope with a few of these problems before the stresses become too great to sustain a healthy colony. Although we can name factors that hurt colony health there is no consensus on what causes this collapse disorder, just speculation. I think that before we implement specific strategies for “saving the bees” we need to do more research on which factors impact colony health the most.
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    May 21 2013: I think that development of bee hives in urban environments is a great idea. However, I think it isn't the first goal we ought to be taking. I feel that it is more of an attempt at alleviate the symptoms of the problem rather than cure it. (Kind of like medicine amirite?)

    The problem is the alarming rate at which bee populations are declining. Obviously, this isn't due to some voodoo curse put upon the bees by an Aztec shaman. There is a real reason behind this occurrence and it is likely a man-made substance or product.

    The E.U. has moved forward on its ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids "are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine." They have been used in the last decade as a potent insecticide that were selected due to their diminished toxicity in mammals.

    Still as with many chemicals, there a many side effects that were down-played by the companies pushing their production and sale. Recent studies have revealed that these pesticides pose a significant risk to honey bee populations and are likely the culprit behind the rapidly declining populations. The bee genus is cosmopolitan and bees play a HUGE role in pollinating plants worldwide. The loss of bees means a decreased ability for plants to cross pollinating, ultimately resulting in a decrease in biodiversity.

    What we need is for US departments that are in charge of pesticide regulation to implement strategies that are effective at minimizing risks to bees. The US EPA has declared a "reregistration" of these pesticides in the US. Essentially, they announced that pending a huge amount of paperwork and insufferable bureaucracy, something might happen. This is ultimately a futile strategy. The US government needs to ban the pesticides NOW and then reintroduce the ones that are deemed safe. We don't have any time to waste; the clock is ticking.

    I would imagine that the urban beekeeing operations might help but they do not eliminate the source of the problem.
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    May 21 2013: I think it would be possible for the US to develop an urban beekeeping industry if there truly was a demand for it. However, it is currently illegal in many cities do to the potential risks associated with bee-sting allergies. I find this to be ridiculous, as the potential benefit of producing food in your own backyard outweigh the unsustainable practice of shipping food thousands of miles from farms to cities

    But changing the agricultural practice we use would be a very slow process. Redesigning urban façades around the U.S., implementing green roofs, and changing city code to allow beehives within cities would be a long process that needs input from the constituency for it to be politically feasible.

    Thus, it may be better to first understand why CCD is occurring to preserve the managed/unmanaged hives that we have. Honeybees themselves enable the production of 90 commercially grown crops. With their rapidly declining numbers, we really need improve information gathering as to why they are declining first, before we move to a more sustainable practice of urban beehives and urban farms.
    • May 21 2013: Yup. I'm on board with the Idea of preserving the colonies we have and agree that we need to find what is causing the CCD. I think its best to try and figure out what happening with the bees we do have left, like you said, before moving on to things like the urban farms. Granted I think that there will most likely be a need for them down the road. I think it is vital to help the ones we do have now and figure out what is destroying them now. I just think that if we put all efforts into into the urban farms will the CCD just move to those farms from the hives we have now if they aren't taken care of?
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    May 21 2013: It might be a tough sell to some of the more prissy (think calif) cities. But what is there to lose bring on the apiaries, if it increases the health of the bees that trumps the rest.
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    May 21 2013: I'm not sure that urban beekeeping is the answer for this because I think that instead of trying to produce more bee colonies we need to first put more efforts in researching the cause of this unknown phenomenon. One possible cause of these colony collapses is the use of a type of pesticide called neonicotinoids that Europe has recently banned in a preventative effort for the bees, but the US has claimed there is not enough evidence that these pesticides are the cause so they have not been banned. I think we need to err on the side of caution since these insects help produce the majority of the world's food and if there is any evidence that something might be causing their collapse then we should do whatever it takes to stop it from happening. Instead of considering these pesticides innocent until proven guilty I think we should encourage the government to enact a precautionary ban until we know exactly what is going on, since billions of people depend on these bees for food.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/02/us-bee-report-pesticide-eu
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      May 21 2013: I agree that more research must be done before we can successfully solve the problem of colony collapse. It seems very likely that there is a link between pesticide use and CCD, but colony collapses have occurred numerous times throughout the past millennium. Ireland had a high number of bee mortality in 950, 992 and 1443 and in Utah in 1903 (1). It is also interesting that there have been a large number of colony collapses in Europe where there has been less pesticide use historically.

      I think that before we introduce colonies of bees into urban centers, we must first rehabilitate existing colonies near agricultural lands. This can possibly be done by reducing monocultures and the creation of recovery zones with high-nectare plants (2). Massive changes in the biodiversity of cities must first take place before we introduce urban colonies or they too will be unsuccessful.

      (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892840/
      (2) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7739798.stm
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        May 21 2013: I definitely agree that major changes need to occur in agriculture to help these bee colonies, whether that will happen with the huge corporate power that food production companies maintain is up for debate.
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        May 21 2013: I totally agree with your point that the rehabilitation of colonies near agricultural centers should take priority. While the fact that the health of bees seems to improve after moving them into urban environments, that strategy has the clear side effect of eliminating one of the most prolific pollinators around. It's definitely important to think about helping the bees themselves, but I think that the more important issue here is helping the bees so that they can continue helping plants, agricultural and otherwise, proliferate.
        So as said by many other people so far, I think that moving bees away from the countryside where they are needed is the wrong approach and instead we should be focusing on understanding CCD, since so far close to nothing is known definitively.

        Edit: I just did a little more digging into the potential economic costs of CCD for farmers and found a dollar value of the crops lost from less honeybees around at $15 billion directly and $75 from indirect effects (2). This estimation was put forward in 2007 by the Secretary of Agriculture at the time, and I have to think that as this problem has worsened, that number has only gone up.

        1) http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/
        2) http://www.envirovaluation.org/2012/01/colony-collapse-disorder-market.html
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          May 21 2013: Many scientists believe that CCD is directly the result of neonicotinoid toxicity.

          We need to follow in the progressive footsteps of our European cousins and tackle this issue before it spirals out of control.

          The introduction of bees to urban environments is probably successful because there are fewer pesticides in the local environment. Bees might help with pollination in the city environment but their maximum efficiency is only achieved in open fields and large tracks of vegetation, their native grounds. [Here are sources I couldn't include in my original post due to character limits]

          European conclusion:
          European Food Safety Authority (16 January 2013) "Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substance clothianidin" EFSA Journal 11(1):3066

          Neonicotinoids mechanism:
          Matsuda K, Buckingham SD, Kleier D, Rauh JJ, Grauso M, and Sattelle DB (2001) Neonicotinoids: insecticides acting on insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Trends Pharmacol Sci 22 573-580.

          The huge risks to bees’ immune systems from these pesticides:
          Tennekes, Henk A. (2010). "The significance of the Druckrey–Küpfmüller equation for risk assessment—The toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to arthropods is reinforced by exposure time". Toxicology 276 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1016/j.tox.2010.07.005. PMID 20803795.

          The effect of neonicotinoids on bee memory: (The bees forget were the hive is and die)
          Williamson, Sally M.; Geraldine A. Wright (7 February 2013). "Exposure to multiple cholinergic pesticides impairs olfactory learning and memory in honeybees". Journal of Experimental Biology 216 (10): 1799. doi:10.1242/jeb.083931.
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          May 21 2013: Hi Erik,
          The original idea didn't actually intend on moving bees away from the rural areas in which they are so desperately needed, rather it was to increase the number of colonies altogether by starting new ones in urban environments. I realize that this doesn't solve the problem of CCD, but it will still alleviate some of the stressors on the total population of honey bees.
          Meanwhile, I think it is important for more research to be done on the harsh pesticides that are used in rural areas (as Ben mentioned above) and what we can be doing to reduce the effects we are having on the bees.
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      May 21 2013: Wow... I just read your post and I pretty much left the same exact comment. Great minds think alike! (or maybe we both read Reddit)
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    May 22 2013: I think Urban beekeeping is a great possible solution to increasing pollination and keeping the food industry alive and thriving but there is this great stigma that bees are bad. I follow into that too. I dislike getting stung so I dislike the idea of bees. We need to somehow help the greater of the United States and the world recognize the impact and benefits of bees to reduce this negative stigma and then more people may be more receptive to having managed bee hives in urban settings. My boyfriend recently took a beekeeping class and wants to put a beehive in the backyard. I was resistant at first but now that I have read literature and read comments on this TED conversation I have changed my thinking and am now encouraging him to get the hive.
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    May 22 2013: Revitalizing pollinators is key to keeping diversity in our food production. The overall biodiversity of ecosystems often depends on the diversity of its pollinators, so why just stop at bees? Honey bees are the poster-children for pollination, however, domestic honey bee colonies are usually only European honey bees. If we were to cultivate the urban honey bee idea using traditional bee keeping practices, it would severely limit the diversity of the crops because they are only being pollinated by a single species of one type of pollinator. Conversely, it would be extremely unlikely to propagate every single pollinator species know to man and expect them all to coexist and pollinate effectively. We should pick a few species that show high rates of pollination success and who also compete well with one another. Before jumping right to honey bees, we should also consider other important pollinators like moths, flys, and birds.
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    May 22 2013: Wow Carly, such great questions you are asking! This is a sad but informative topic. I learned so much from watching the TED Talk posted. I'll be sure to do lots more research on urban beekeeping around my own town. And I have seen so many wonderfully formulated responses to this TED Conversation. Such a positive, and brilliant set of minds that have responded to your wonderful questions.

    God bless!

    -Todd C.
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      May 22 2013: Thanks Todd! It is a really important topic that not very many people are informed about. The discussion is actually for a class but what interested me was the simple fact that honey bee populations are on the decline. When I realized I had no idea why, I knew that a lot of other people probably didn't either and it's obviously an important thing that needs to be discussed. Thanks for your input!
  • May 22 2013: From the Carvalheiro paper, "Natural and within farmland biodiversity enhances crop productivity," we read how increased plant diversity has a positive correlation with flower pollination and distancing from "natural habitats" working vice-versa. Data from Wilson-Rich's TEDtalk states that urban bees have higher honey yield than do country bees. I would then be led to believe Carvalheiro's "natural habitats" are simply referring to non-agricultural land, gaining support from general dispersal patterns, which hypothesize alpha-diversity will be greater within urban areas than rural. If "natural habitat" referred to areas uninhabited by humans or one with a close representation of once native species, we could expect to see no difference in urban and rural bee honey production -- I think in scientific context "natural" is WAY to ambiguous to be used as a general term... just had to get that off my chest.

    Nevertheless, this idea of "natural habitat" vs. "high-plant-diversity habitat" in regards to pollination and honey-production rates brings about another question: are high honey-production rates in urban areas a result of more than just high biodiversity and would urban bee-keeping significantly increase pollination rates?

    If bees produce honey as a food reserve, could the increased honey production in cities be result of environmental factors greater than high biodiversity? Affects of global warming heat cities faster than rural areas and seasonality of fresh food-sources in cities will not be the same as that of a "natural" habitat and probably greater; so therefore, I would think, less reason to store food reserves. Also, I would assume that in areas with more non-native species (i.e. cities), nectar robbing could likely be more common reducing the ratio of flowers pollinated to honey produced. So not that I dislike the idea of urban honey bees, but I see a chance overall affects to food production could yield diminishing returns.
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    May 21 2013: It's is obvious that we need bees more than they need us! I think that the United States should definitely develop some kind of urban beekeeping industry. Why wouldn't the people of this nation not want to do anything in their power to save these number one insects who ensure our food production is at its maximum. As said in previous comments, pollinators like bees increase the production of our leading crops. To answer the question asking if the positive outcomes for the urban beekeeping industry will out weigh the negatives my answer would be...can we risk not doing anything to save these important factors for food production in the future ? What will happen if bees do go extinct to the food production because of our exponential human growth ?
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      May 22 2013: That's definitely a good point. It's not as though we have a choice about whether to produce more food, global population is continuing to grow steadily. We'll need to do everything we can to produce adequate food, so by helping the bees we can really help ourselves!
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    May 21 2013: I think that we should do anything possible to ensure the survival of bees. Honeybees are the most economically valuable pollinators of crop monocultures worldwide. Production of the majority of leading crops increases with pollinating animals. In aggregate, these crops account for 35% of global food production (Klein et al, 2006). Therefore, colony survival is imperative.
    It has been shown that honeybees are more beneficial pollinators when diverse species of ruderal flowers are present, even when the bees are far from their natural habitat (Calvaheiro et al, 2011) (which would be the urban environment in this case.) If these flowers are allowed to grow on green roofs, I think it will help sustain bees and allow for a wide range of movement. I definitely think that the potential positive outcomes of urban beehives outweigh the negative, since bees play such a crucial role in crop production.
  • May 21 2013: Another benefit from local bee hives is alergy reduction. I teaspoon of local honey a day and my alergies are almost gone.
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      May 22 2013: Actually, I've heard a lot about bee honey and pollen in terms of allergy reduction and I think this is definitely something worth exploring as a pro for urban beehives. While there hasn't really been any real research done into the benefits of local honey in treating allergies, I personally have noticed a difference in mine after eating honey bought from a local farmer's market, and there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence. It would make sense that local honey would help with a specific region's allergy symptoms as the pollen in the air is the same used in the local honey. It would be very beneficial, I'm sure, knowing how many people suffer from minor springtime allergies and hay fever.

      Here's a link to an article about honey and allergies:
      http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/allergies/allergy-treatments/local-honey-for-allergies2.htm
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      May 22 2013: I heard about this idea last year after I had a really bad allergy problem, and I have to say that it definitely works for me as well. I think a lot more people could benefit from local honey as an allergy reducer, especially here in Eugene where spring pollen counts are higher than most of the country.
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      May 22 2013: I too have terrible grass allergies, compounded by living in the grass seed capital of the world, and have heard that local honey can help that, so for the past year i've been going through it by the jar. It seems it may be helping, today and yesterday have been the first days my allergies have been extra-bad this year, so that could be something, but I still need to see how I hold up over the summer before I'm completely convinced...
      • May 22 2013: It needs to start before the season and bee (pun intended) consistent.
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    May 21 2013: I definitely think its possible for the US to have an urban beekeeping industry but we have some work to do before it will be globally successful. As a biology student, I have the understanding and knowledge to appreciate how important bees are for pollination, the environment, and biodiversity. But do a majority of people also have this understanding? From personal experience, I highly doubt the value of bees is well understood. I think the best way to get this project rolling on a global level is to educate people. Social media and mass media could play a major role in the transformation of people's ideas about bees. This may be ignorant but most people are afraid of bees because they could get stung or they are allergic. If the state governments offered an income property tax discount for those that install bee hives in the environment, more people may be inclined to have one of these urban beehives.
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      Eun Min

      • +2
      May 21 2013: I agree with you that many people do not know the value of the bees. Without honey bees, we do not have food! some people would not even care as you said.
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      May 21 2013: Thats a great idea. Economic incentives to those that are willing to have the beehives is a great way to get people to want to install them into their homes. Over all education to the general public about bees is lacking I agree, and I also think that targeting social media outlets to educate the public the importance of bees is probably the best way to get people to learn. More people use facebook and twitter everyday to get their news updates so if they saw something about the bees as an update or a tweet I think it would be a great way to target mass audience. As far as bee allergies are concerned, how are people treated for this? Is it an Epi-pen? I think reaching out to the people who have bee allergies is going to be the hardest people to convince about the importance of the urban bee farms.
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        May 22 2013: I agree, good post. The economic incentives seem like a great idea to get the ball rolling in changing the public's perception of bees, it will seem like a smart idea to keep bees around. Additionally, yes, viral marketing via social media about bees could convert people over to the "bee" side even faster than we might think!

        Yes, people allergic to bees typically carry epi-pens if they think they're at risk, or at least they're supposed to- according to webMD at least. However, webMD also said that half of the people who die from bee stings did not know they were allergic! That could be a problem, so perhaps if urban beehives become widespread, the public should be encouraged to test themselves for bee allergies, carry an epi-pen if needed, taught how to avoid stings, and just how to behave around bees in general.
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    May 22 2013: I think urban beekeeping industry is possible if people make plan to provide safe places for bees to make the beehives and if some allergic people protect themselves from being attacked by bees. So, the urban beekeeping industry helps to increase the population of honeybees. However, I am curious if the urban beekeeping industry will increase food production. As we already know, bees are helpful pollinator, and of course they can help plants to pollinate and produce fruits. But, this beneficial mechanism helped by the bees will be limited in urban, that is, it will not helpful for plants on other places where occupy most portions of food-producing area. It is because most of farms are not located in urban and bees do not move far away from the hives. Therefore, they will not work as pollinators for plants in suburban and countryside and will not increase food production effectively.
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    May 22 2013: I think to develop an urban beekeeping industry is a good idea, and it can be achieved easily. But I think it is not enough to keep all the bees healthy. I read your introduction and I find you said the main reason which cause the CCD is a virus named Israeli acute paralysis virus. I think the way which people can solve this problem is decrease the number of this virus. I think eradicate the virus is not a good idea, because if the virus die out, there may cause some other issue. If one of species desapear, there will be a chain reaction which is caused by biodiversity disorder. I also have a question here, is the beehives so important for all the food production? I think it dosen't have so much power in all the food production.
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      May 22 2013: There are food products that do fine without the pollination of bees. But there are a lot that do not. Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately "$15 billion in agricultural crops each year." They pollinate over 100 different crops. So they definitely impact food production. California uses over 1.3 million colonies for crop pollination. Food production would not halt without bees but it would be much less diverse.

      Here's an easy to read fact website about bees

      http://www.helpthehoneybees.com/presskit/bee_facts.html
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    May 22 2013: It's really too bad that we have such a negative view of honeybees. They are really nothing to fret about. My grandmother is allergic to bees (their sting) yet she works in her garden every weekend when its not raining. She often wears sleeveless shirts. Many gardeners know that if you don't bother them, they won't bother you. So what exactly are the downsides of urban beehives? I think an urban beekeeping industry is possible, it just won't spring up over night. It would require a shift in the mentality of urban populations. I think it's a great idea and hopefully such an industry can be started
  • May 22 2013: I think this is a brilliant idea! I think it is not difficult to attain all of the ideas mention, and that they are all green, sustainable ideas. Obviously any idea no matter how revolutionary should be researched and planned meticulously before put into action, however right of the bat I don't see any problems with urban beehives, gardens or green roofs! I always have and always will agree with the increase of incorporation of plants, animals, insects and nature in general with urban environments. Humans weren't designed to live in cities...
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    May 22 2013: Urban beekeeping sounds like an excellent idea. Also, I think it makes perfect sense that bees survive more in cities than any other place, and its probably because its safer and more secluded in comparison to open air in the fields, and this probably keeps them safe from possible predators. In almost every place I have ever lived, I always seemed to find a beehive or two; in my apartment balcony by the metal bars, in a space under the roof by my window, and finally, inside a wood post by the front door (this was about 2 years ago). Unfortunately, for the last place, my dad used an insecticide to kill them.

    I'm actually still surprised that the decline is so high, or that a virus had a huge part in it, because the moment I read "colony collapse" I immidiantly thought it would be pesticides. But shame on me for forgetting that it could always be a different culprit, or a variety of them! With urban beekeeping, I think it would encourage more people to NOT kill them on sight. I hope the US lifts all those bans though, cause bees have a part in pollination. I don't have any good suggestions for this, but I do think that developing a beekeeing industry in the us could be possible in the future.
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    May 22 2013: Carly: "you know of any other ideas that help to make human environments more bee friendly?"

    Other then have a mud puddle as I said below, I would think planting a verity of plants so the flower at different times to cover as many pollinators seasons as possible. Maybe looking into creating a healthy soil, would product healthy flowers and thus pollinators. Earth worm and compost are two ways I know of to improve soil health.

    P.S. Carly if you can would you extend the close time on this conversation? It is really informative.
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      May 22 2013: I wish I could! The conversation is actually for a class so I don't have control over the amount of time that it's open, but thanks for the input!
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    May 22 2013: We touched on something similar to this idea in discussion this week. The study showed that the biological diversity of pollinating insects was analogous (proportional) to the efficiency and amount of food production and growth of sunflowers. I do believe this is a good idea, but the problem for society is that bees must be "bad", and cute fuzzy animals must be "good". While setting up beehives could be a good idea for agricultural areas, I don't understand the advantage to putting them into cities, where barely any plant life is present. Of course if rooftop gardens (great idea) were to be implemented, urban beehives would thrive and (to rational people) would most likely be accepted by the general public if somehow constricted.
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    May 22 2013: I think that urban beekeeping is a great idea to help support biodiversity, as well as crop production. Even though there is a negative stigma associated with bees, I think that it is an important step in helping to save the bee colonies. Having a bee hive in your garden could be a good way to help pollination of plants around the area. However, I'm not so sure about the importance of having a beehive in a city such as New York City. I think of bees as supporters for crops and biodiversity, which is not necessarily what I think about when thinking of a large city. But having beehives in suburban areas I think is a good idea, as long as the necessary education is given to those with and around the beehives.
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    May 22 2013: Partially in response to Don, I think it would be great to focus on increasing the number of pollinators in the urban environment. It is important to note that honey bees are not the only pollinator, and that focusing on only one species is a limited solution. Why not take a biodiverse approach to revitalizing pollinator populations? It seems like the CCD epidemic is such a problem precisely because we are too dependent on one species of bee.
    Also, in order for urban honey bees or other pollinators to have a significant impact on food production, we will have to re-imagine urban food production. While there are cities that feature good urban gardening programs, many cities are ill-equipped. This can be a scientific and social justice issue. For example, South-Central Los Angeles has serious pollution problems that make me skeptical about the safety of farming there. Don't people there deserve to urban farm just as much as someone in a wealthy suburb outside LA? Introducing pollinators into the urban environment is likely to be good for urban forests and other ecosystems, and has potential to help our urban food production. The second point is only true, however, if we make an effort to develop urban food production.
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      May 22 2013: Hi Don,

      How do you propose to increase the diversity of pollinators in urban environments? Would this entail introducing more non-native species? Do you know of examples where regions have developed a biodiverse pollination strategy?
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        May 22 2013: Non-native species too often become invasive species, so I would not recommend that.
        Odds are there are a lot more native pollinators around then you’re aware of, so creating a hospitable environment for them likely is the best thing to do.

        For example if you have spring flowering plant like fruit trees, placing mason bee houses is a good idea.
        I have been planting butterfly-bushes to aid the wild migrating pollinators, in the Midwest they have a long blooming season and attract/feed bees, butter flies and humming birds.
        Also bees and butterflies need a mud for nutrition, so be artist and have something to provide that for them.

        Often your local nursery and home-improvement stores know what plants and feeders do best in your zone.

        good luck and have fun with it.
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          May 22 2013: Hi Don,
          From what others have said in this conversation, it seems that making one's yard (or community) more 'pollinator-friendly' is a really good idea that can also contribute to increasing honey bee populations (as well as populations of various other species of bees). I've heard about the butterfly bushes, but do you know of any other ideas that help to make human environments more bee friendly? Thanks!
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          May 22 2013: Don, I think your mention of consulting local plat experts to determine the best plant species for different areas is crucial. Since microclimates within cities can vary, determining what plants will best support pollinators seems like the most important step when attempting to create more hospitable environments in a specific area for these organisms
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    May 22 2013: I think it is definitely possible for the United States to develop an urban beekeeping industry. As we all know, bees are play an extremely important role in the pollination of many crops that we use as food. As a result, the drastic declines in bee colonies will have a significant effect in the United States. Urban beekeeping has been occurring not only in Paris, but also on the rooftop of Sea Port Hotel and Fairmount Copely Plaza in Boston! These places house hundreds of thousands of bees that pollinate local gardens throughout the city. Also, New York has recently (2010) lifted the ban on urban beekeeping and has already registered at least 200 hives.

    As many people have stated, a really important part of increasing the acceptance of the idea of urban beekeeping is to educate the public on the importance and advantages of having bees in our lives. Many people are afraid of bees because they are capable of stinging us, but they need to be informed that stinging humans is not the main goal of bees; their main goal is to find flowers and crops and pollinate them. If we could educate the public and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of with bees, I think the acceptance of the urban beekeeping idea will dramatically increase.
  • May 22 2013: I think urban bee keeping is not only a great idea but also a possible idea. Many people these days are buying and raising their own chickens for eggs and trying to grow their own vegetables. Bees would only improve gardens. With a big enough push everyone would get on the "bee band wagon." if bee keeping became legal throughout the U.S. I think it would be in everyone's best interest that anyone wanting to get bees, would be required to take a class and be properly educated on space, care and control of their bees. This would hopefully decrease fears and increase knowledge of these wonderful insects!
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      May 22 2013: I agree that educating people on the importance of bees is a key step in urban bee keeping. However, I think the negative stigma associated with bees will be difficult to overcome. Hopefully, with proper education people will be able to get over this fear and realize that bees provide a crucial role in pollination that helps crops and biodiversity.
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    May 22 2013: Okay. Apparently the comment I posted earlier didn't post for some reason. Probably due to my bad internet. I don't really feel like typing it all out again, especially since most of it has been covered, so I will just try to sum up my main points:

    I think urban beehives are potentially a good idea as long as they are managed properly. The hives should be fenced off to prevent them from being a danger to the public, especially to those who are allergic to bees. In addition, the hives should be placed in parks so the bees will have a large area to gather resources and are less likely to be buzzing around the streets bothering people.

    One huge benefit to having these colonies in cities is that if CCD begins to affect these urban populations, it could potentially be easier to find the dead bees. In rural areas, there is so much space that the bodies are usually lost in the brush.
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      May 22 2013: Hi Derek,

      Do you think that fencing off the hives might impact biological diversity in any way? How big do you think the hive area would need to be? I have never seen fenced off beehives. Is this common? Do you have examples of where this has been done successfully in urban environments?
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        May 22 2013: Jessica,

        I was thinking more along the lines of an anti-human fence so that people (assuming here that we're referring to a park) don't stumble on top of the hive and get stung. It wouldn't even necessarily have to be a fence, just something that provides a boundary that people wouldn't miss.

        I don't have any examples of this. A google search of beehive fences resulted in examples of using beehives as a deterrent for elephants in Africa. I would just think you would somehow want to protect the beehives in question from people, as well as people from the beehives.
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          May 22 2013: Using bees to deter elephants? That sounds cool. What exactly are they being deterred from and why is it effective?
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        May 22 2013: Carly, elephants are extremely fearful of bees, so some African villages will place beehives around the perimeter of their village so elephants won't come walking through. If an elephant encounters the hive, it'll stop and walk away.
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    May 22 2013: I think it is possible for the United States to develop an urban beekeeping industry. Firstly, as mentioned, increasing the number of bees in urban can allow food production to increase. With more flowered being pollinated, the environment of urban will become better, more green areas, more fresh air. On the other hand, bees are not injurious insects, people don't have to be afraid of them. It is a common sense that bees do not attack people only if they feel they are in danger. So I think it has enough positive outcome to weigh the downsides.
  • May 22 2013: I think it depends on the size and type of cities. First of all, a beehive needs certain amount of food source (flower) within area because their area activity is limited.(they cannot fly all the way to the outside of a city)
    In metropolitan like in the east coast, the food source is limited and then more bees are possibly attracted by the artificial sweetness that human has such as perfume, food and soft drinks. In this cases, the chance of contact between human and bee increases and correlated health problems also increases.
    However, a city like Eugene is possible to share a habitat with bees. These cities have a good food sources in parks and gardens area so bees have available food sources.
    Even though there will be some health issues, we can give a short education lecture or video how to avoid bee's stinger and provides some emergency antibody for bee's sting to the publics.
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      May 22 2013: I agree, in large cities (San Francisco, New York), it will be difficult to maintain a urban bee industry because of the simple lack of flowers and high human traffic. In small communities like Eugene it is highly possible and I think many forget about the bubble of living in a bee community where they think that having a bee hive in the back yard is normal or having live stock in the backyard is normal. Yes, it may be normal in a small town/city, but in large ones it is quite... abnormal.

      Even by educating citizens about bees and the importance of them, they will still be seen as pests and as a possible danger if allergic. In large cities, I think a bee community can only work in local parks where there is a influx of flowers, but besides that it will be difficult for those to take flight. Especially since most cities don't have backyards or any space besides living in an apartment.
      • May 22 2013: Well, I have lived in Eugene for 4 yrs. Good thing is that they rarely use pesticide because it is their garden where their kids and pets are playing...
        Maybe, if we provide a small lecture in the elementary or high schools to kids, it would be more effective. It is because kids easily deliver message from teachers to parents and more effectively spread message than give a lecture to the adults.
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        May 22 2013: But it sounds like, from reading the posts of others, that New York lifted the ban on in 2010 urban beekeeping and has already registered at least 200 hives. Given that it already appears to be a movement in big cities, why do you think that it will be difficult to maintain in big cities? Did you do any research to see what is already being done in the Bay Area?

        A quick search on the topic makes it look like even San Francisco has a growing beekeeping community

        http://baynature.org/articles/thrill-of-the-hive-san-francisco-beekeeping/
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        May 22 2013: San Francisco has a growing urban farm community as well. There are about 84 gardens at the moment according to an recently published article on the SF Examiner website. The city also has lots of neighborhood parks. I think these, in combination with residential gardens (few as they may be) would be adequate to sustain many colonies. And bees are known to fly up to 7 miles from the colony to foraging sites (while returns begin to diminish at around 4 miles when you take into consideration energy spent in transit) so bees wouldn't necessarily need to fly forever in smaller cities like San Francisco.

        I'm not very familiar with the layout of New York but I imagine certain areas, at least, have quite a few parks too. If there aren't enough foraging sites for bees in city's that want the benefits they bring then it could be an excuse to plant more greenery.

        http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/04/san-francisco-urban-farming-report-overdue-long-awaited
        http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/joe-traynor/how-far-do-bees-fly-one-mile-two-seven-and-why/
  • May 22 2013: I love the idea of urban beehives and green roofs and gardens. However, I feel that for the urban beehive idea to work the rooftop garden idea would need to be become more common. I just unsure if the bees would be able to survive in the densely populated urban areas due to the lack of plants.
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      May 22 2013: I don't believe the proposal is for rooftop gardens. I would think that rooftops would be too small and too isolated to support healthy bee populations. Instead, I believe it would be more effective to place these colonies in parks and the like, somewhere where the bees can thrive, and where plants are abundant.
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        Jon Cox

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        May 22 2013: I think the idea behind rooftop beehives is that it keeps them a little more protected and out of the way. Putting them on skyscrapers wouldn't be a good plan, of course, but on small buildings near an ample food supply it makes great sense. Having the hive up and out of sight would reduce the chances of vandalism to the hive and potential injury to humans. Honeybees naturally nest way up in trees because it is safer up there and they happily fly down to find nectar. Rooftop gardens alone probably couldn't sustain them but they are free to fly around and search out additional food.
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      May 22 2013: Not that rooftop gardens are needed to sustain urban beekeeping - but did you see this TED Conversation led by UO students last year on rooftop gardening? http://www.ted.com/conversations/11577/if_green_roofs_were_mandatory.html
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        May 22 2013: Wow mandatory green roofs! Never heard of that. Apparently reduces summer heating costs by about 75%. Pretty cool! Way to go Toronto and Copenhagen. Hopefully we see some awesome results.
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    May 21 2013: The US has lots of micro-breweries, so using them as a model we could aim for lots of micro-honey-producers. They each could have they own unique flavor, so you want John’s clover-Honey, or Jain’s daisy-Honey?

    It would be really helpful if cities could give sales-tax breaks to the local micro honey producers.

    Personally I live rural and although I don’t have beehives, I have seen I lot more honey bees this year. And I have been working for years to make my land more pollinator friendly, with a few butterfly-bushes, rose bushes, humming bird feeders, etc. and about 2 acres of clover that happened naturally.
    Once I get done planting I will have to look into starting beehives.
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      May 21 2013: Another idea could be for cities to give property tax breaks to homeowners/landowners in the city to plant honey bee friendly flowers and trees so as to sustain local and maybe commercial colonies used for these 'micro-honey-producers.'
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        Mario R

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        May 22 2013: Hello Walter,

        I don't know about property tax breaks, but I do know that there are grants for beekeeping. I think this is a great idea, not only because it helps stimulate the number of beehives, but also because it encourages people to start getting more involved in beekeeping. More and more people also might start realizing the crucial role that bees play in pollination. Maybe then there won't be as many pesticides used,which have been thought to adversely affect the health of the bees.

        http://smallbusiness.chron.com/grants-starting-apiary-20755.html
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        May 22 2013: Hi Walter,

        Do you have examples where tax breaks have been a successful route to promote change in an area like this? If there was any evidence to suggest that tax breaks were successful for promoting green space then I would see how this model could translate to beekeeping one day.
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          May 22 2013: Political pushes for more green space in the last decade or so have proven to be very successful. In a CNN article from 2006, 77 % of tax or bond initiatives we passed in 23 states. This amount totaled over $5 billion toward land conservation and the creation of green space. Also in that same year a considerable area of green space was added to New York city by converting a run down train track into a city park. This was also widely supported by politicians and the people of New York. This has also happened in Atlanta, Georgia.
          There isn't much evidence for promoting green space with tax breaks, but the incentives offered by the U.S. federal gov. to individuals and corporations for becoming more energy efficient was very successful. Other incentives were given to green energy companies and caused a spike in solar and wind energy.
          With these incentives promoting green energy and making it a more popular topic today I think we could extend it to promoting green space. The promotion of green space with a great drive for educating about our pollinators we could see a shift toward this. I would suggest that if incentives were offered to those who own property in a city where taxes are highest for home and living, then many would take advantage of it.

          http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/12/parks.votes/index.html?iref=allsearch
          http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/03/15/highline.biog/index.html?iref=allsearch

          A Nat. Geo. article on urban farming also suggests that incentives may help us along the path promoting green space.
          http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/photos/urban-farming/
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        May 22 2013: I like the idea of providing incentives for people to promote bees by planting bee friendly plants and trees around their property. Giving a tax break or some other incentive could certainly help the situation without the need for any major changes like purchasing new land for a bee habitat which would likely have large expenses as well.
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          May 22 2013: That makes a lot of sense.. we could provide "stepping stones" to help the bees move and pollinate, while simple planting vegetation that people could have in their gardens anyway! That's also why I like the idea of green roofs and rooftop gardens... it's space that already exists, we just need to utilize it better.
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      May 22 2013: I like the idea of micro-honey producers. This could reduce one of the possible stresses to the colonies by keeping colonies that more closely resembled colonies in nature, with both honey producing and pollinating members rather than just tons of pollinators. We could then reduce our dependence on foreign "honey", much of which may in fact be fake and laden with heavy metals and illegal antibiotics, as reported in Mother Jones last year.

      http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/supermarkets-sell-fake-honey
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        May 22 2013: It is not a new idea; I noticed in many Irish cooking shows they use clover honey.
        So it is easy to assume that there must be micro-honey producers or at least stationary honey producers in Ireland and likely elsewhere.
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    May 21 2013: The views of our society have this negative notion that bees are dangerous, and that they are out to get us. Many people are scared to get stung by bees because they might be allergic. I wonder how many people actually are, or if they are just scared of the hype. Urban beekeeping gets a large amount of persecution due to these fears. I think that we need to take big steps in changing society's views about bees before we can make real progress with an urban beekeeping industry.

    I think that this needs to be emphasized in the coming years, because of their amazing benefits to urban farming and plant life in urban communities. The bees are the best pollinators we have, and if we use them appropriately they can help make cities much more self-sustainable. A program or better learning in schools can help raise awareness and lessen the negative impacts of bees.
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      May 21 2013: I completely agree. There is a prevalent social stigma that if you get too close to a bee it will will sting you. Many people forget that this in only true in the case of the African killer bee populations. Others might think of a wasp or hornet as an equal to a bee, but in reality are quite different with different functions and attitudes. Honey bees are docile and non-aggressive.
      When I took biology in high school we never even addressed pollination biology. At least not beyond the parts of a model flower. I think we should include a section in all general biology classes that teaches about pollinators. Bees, moths, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, etc.
      I also think it would be a great idea to push for popularization of rooftop gardens. Imagine if every building in Manhattan had a rooftop garden that used the principles of urban farming. The agriculture business could really be changed by this on multiple levels.
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        May 22 2013: I like the idea of requiring schools to include pollination in their curricula! I think a lot of schools actually do this already, but who's to say how much they emphasize it's crucial role in our day-to-day lives. I would like to see schools implementing a program that teaches their students about where all of their food comes from and how the food industry works. I think that it's truly important to know and understand how we get our food, otherwise it can seem more like a commodity rather than a necessity and a basic human right.
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      May 22 2013: HI Patrick,

      Did you do any digging around to see if there has been research done on public fear associated with bees and beekeeping? My bet is that someone has studied this.

      I did a 5 minute search and came up with this: http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(08)00086-X/abstract
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    May 21 2013: We must protect the bees as it is the only domesticated insect, (I think)

    I worked with my dad as a kid as amateur beekeepers with a few hundred hives. So I'm partial to this idea
  • May 21 2013: More food Always a good idea.
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    May 21 2013: I think that this idea is possible, but not very plausible. Just like urban gardening is great, it also does not really impact our food cycle to a great extent. Understandably I feel like most people don't have the time or space to really produce very much.
    I think that some places, such as the Urban Farm on the University of Oregon Campus, do a great job of actually producing food and informing students and the community about food. I think maybe having somewhere like that dedicated to bees would be very effective.
    I also do think that some people might be very opposed to urban bee centers, particularly people with children or severe bee allergies. Maybe if the bees were located in rural settings outside of dense urban populations there would not be this issue and the bees would still have the intended positive effect.
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      May 21 2013: Hi Kristin, actually the reason for building an urban beekeeping industry (rather than a rural one) is because bees are surviving better in urban areas, most likely because cities aren't constantly sprayed with pesticides like agricultural fields. In Paris, France there are a lot of bee hives on the roofs of big buildings, like the Opera House and the Grand Palais. I think the reason they put them on the roofs are to keep them away from the public, possibly to reduce risks to those who are allergic.

      http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/bring-on-the-bees/
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      May 21 2013: I might disagree with you, Kristin. I think that bee keeping is actually a very plausible means of increasing food production, both locally, and on a large scale. While many states to have strict regulations regarding the keeping of bees in urban environments, many are beginning to allow the keeping of bees with permits and certain rules. For instance, in Portland, I know that it is okay to keep bees in urban environments with a permit, and in fact my aunt and my brother both keep bees. They're not that much work to keep, they pollenate the fruit trees in the area, and they produce really great honey.

      I think in general, keeping bees doesn't take much time or space, and even if the owner of the bees isn't growing food themselves, if the beehive is anywhere near a garden (even a community one) I feel as though it would benefit greatly from the bee activity.
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        May 21 2013: I am all for grass-root solutions to environmental problems, especially food related issues, but I think in this case it would simply take a very large amount of people participating to make a large difference in the food production system. Some improvement is better than no improvement at all, but I think in this situation the scope of a real solution is a bit limited
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          May 21 2013: Another factor to consider is that amateur urban beekeepers may propagate bee pests, affecting experienced beekepers. The comment linked below warns that ignorant beekeepers may make varroa (a parasitic mite that may be linked to colony collapse disorder) and other pests worse because of poor management practices. If such projects were scaled to the level you suggest may be necessary, there could be unintended consequences.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/6016980/The-dangers-of-amateur-urban-beekeeping.html
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          May 21 2013: That's true, urban beekeeping would take a lot of involvement to make a big difference. I do still think it's something worth being encouraged on a small scale. A lot of big change starts with small actions, and who knows? Maybe just a couple people getting bees and showing their friends and family can start something big.
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          May 21 2013: While it's true that it would take a lot of beehives to produce a significantly larger amount of food, even just a few beehives can provide lots of benefits too. Just having one beehive in one garden can increase the amount of food produced in that garden, so that person will be directly experiencing the benefits of the beehive. Not to mention those bees will also pollinate the local plants, contributing to the biodiversity of the area. I feel that beekeeping could become really popular when people begin to realize how beneficial it is and how few the dangers actually are. It might be a slow process, but definitely worth it!
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    May 21 2013: Off the top of my head, I would have to say that it isn't possible. I say this because many people aren't fully informed and don't care to be so. They see bees and think that they are a menace. They don't consider the role that bees provide.

    So, in order to allow/implement this, there would need to be legislation passed to make it happen. To pass the legislation, this problem needs to be made more apparent, through informing people about the problem and getting enough funding to properly do so.

    Seeing as how our two party system can't agree on much, i highly doubt that this can be accomplished.
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      May 21 2013: Actually beekeeping has become more accepted in cities recently. New York City just legalized urban beekeeping in 2010, so I definitely think that it's possible for more cities to follow in their footsteps.

      http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/bring-on-the-bees/
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        May 21 2013: I am wondering if they have some regulation in order to have urban beehives?
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        May 21 2013: I would want to know the regulations, but what was it that convinced the city to change its mind after so long. If there was any research that showed statistical evidence of the beneficial effects of urban beekeeping.
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        May 21 2013: How many cities actually have a regulation or law against raising urban beehives? That'd be interesting to find that number. Or, how many cities would develop laws against it if someone wanted to put one in? Always hard to bring science into discussions like this when politics rule everything. There's obvious scientific prof all across this conversation of why urban bee hives need to be looked into, yet, we are always having to go back to "is there a law against that"? Can be disappointing.
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      May 21 2013: Make an awesome video explaining why honey bees are necessary to grow crops that humans depend on. Show this video at any "city council" meeting that is thinking about allowing urban beehives in their community. Most people already know bees are important. And most people are willing to get behind a cause they know is good and helping the world.
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        May 21 2013: The video needs to include how bees have a bad rep, not due to them stinging people, but instead it has more to do with their aggressive relatives, the wasps and hornets.
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          May 22 2013: I agree Clinton. When most people think of bees the first thing that comes to their mind is wasps or hornets. Not all bees are aggressive and I think that once people start to understand the difference between them than maybe the need to harm them will lessen.
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        May 22 2013: I would like to further say that the eradication or severe reduction of wasps and hornets might make the situation much better, especially since they don't serve much of a purpose.
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        May 22 2013: Implementation is where this would get tricky. wasps and hornets exist in much smaller groups than bees.

        My only thoughts would be that it would be a problem that would be delegated to citizens through making legislation that requires people to deal with infestations. If the infestations are harder, then it would require the city to take care of it.