With recent shortages and alarming declines of wild and managed bee populations, urban beekeeping has been on the rise. This practice of keeping bee colonies in urban areas helps sustain bee populations by keeping hives away from predators and allowing for bees to pollinate. Urban beekeeping also brings people together around a unique experience inspiring them to do better and do more for the environment, with the added benefit of producing local urban honey.
Nicola Wealth Real Estate manages many commercial real estate buildings providing several optimal beekeeping venues. We have started urban beekeeping projects at three of our buildings (Westgate I in Houston TX, Gateway II in Bellevue, WA and Watline in Mississauga, ON) with more to come in the future. This has not only allowed us to further our sustainability goals but build community engagement with our tenants.
“Personally, it’s important to me because bees play an essential part in sustaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem. Says Dan Quon, Senior Asset Manager, “We need bees to pollinate. If there are not enough bees, food production goes down. I think we need to do what we can to provide an environment where bees can prosper.”
Urban Bees Have Higher Survival Rates
Contrary to what one might expect, urban bees survive better, produce more honey, and are healthier than rural bees. Urban bees have a winter survival rate of 62.5 percent, compared to just 40 percent for their rural counterparts. Urban bees also produce, on average, 26.25 pounds of honey in their first year, while the yield for rural bees is only 16.75 pounds. The reason is that urban bees have access to greater biodiversity, resulting in a more varied diet and stronger immune systems.
Bee health is particularly important today because, over the past decade, bee populations have been drastically declining due to colony collapse disorder (CCD). CCD has no identified cause, yet has contributed significantly to shrinking global bee populations every year by 30 percent since 2006. Bee population shrinkage can also be linked to insecticides, something that is far less common in urban areas.
Urban Beekeeping Benefits Local Communities
As pollinators, bees play a vital role in every aspect of the ecosystem. The majority of plant species, almost 90%, rely on pollinators to reproduce, making bees essential for agriculture and plant life. As wild bee populations decline, the need for secondary sources of pollen for agricultural production grows. Thus, demand for urban honeybees is increasing.
Additionally, honey has medicinal purposes, cultural value, and nutritional density, making it a useful source of carbohydrates for food-insecure areas globally.
In addition to their environmental impact, the bees have also built a new sense of community in our buildings. In the buildings housing our urban beekeeping projects, beekeepers from Alveole run regular educational workshops and seminars bringing the community together. Tenants are encouraged to meet the bees, participate in the beekeeping process, and enjoy local honey and beeswax products produced on-site.
“I am amazed by the positive response from our tenants. I think people are concerned about where their food comes from and how it’s made. They get to see a beehive in an urban setting and taste the honey right in front of them. It’s an eye-opening experience” says Dan Quon.
And the cherry on top? This year we will have at least 100 jars of our very own local Nicola Wealth honey!