Urban Swedes flock to beekeeping trend

TT/The Local
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Urban Swedes flock to beekeeping trend

Keeping a hive of bees on your roof-top has become a booming trend in Swedish cities, boosted by a thirst for honey, a desire for cross-pollination and environmental awareness.


"You can really talk in terms of a 'boom' when it comes to the interest in beekeeping in the big cities. We receive a large number of enquiries and our courses are all virtually fully booked," said Mats-Ola Persson at BeeUrban in Gothenburg.
The hives are no longer the reserve of rural green-wavers and are increasingly becoming a feature of suburban gardens and even roof tops and balconies in the inner-cities. 
The booming bee business has prompted the formation of a new organization, Svenska Bin (Swedish Bees), which is holding a conference over the weekend in Skövde in central Sweden, gathering several hundred beekeepers from across the country.
The trend is catching on among younger people and more women are reported to be making strides into what has been a traditionally male-dominated industry.
"The sector needs rejuvenation. In this way, we get a broader group of young and old, city-dwellers and rural beekeepers," said Lotta Fabricius Kristiansen, Project Manager at Svenska Bin.
An increased interest in the environment and the consequences of climate change and biodiversity degradation are behind the bee boom, explained Mats-Ola Persson.
"People have heard that the bees are disappearing and that ultimately this could threaten our own existence. Moreover, it is easy to have bees as pets in town."
Urban life is well-suited to keeping bees as there are no pesticides, many green areas and flower beds and flower boxes that are constantly renewed. Mats-Ola Persson, for example, keeps his hives on a rooftop near a church. Studies undertaken by BeeUrban have also shown that exhaust fumes don't seem to affect the flavour of the honey.
"It's not hard to find space with a few hives. I have received requests from homeowners who have wondered if they can get their hands on a hive. Many landlords have also been in touch to inquire," said Mats-Ola Persson.
For Svenska Bin, which is a merger of nine member organizations, the weekend's conference is a way to emphasize how vital the humble bee is to the smooth functioning of the Swedish food supply.
"We need to double the number of bee colonies in order to cover the need for pollination. If we don't manage this then there is a risk that harvests will deteriorate," We did not manage risk harvests to deteriorate," Lotta Fabricius Kristiansen said.


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