02/24/23 Proposal for urban beekeeping in Zagreb justifiably rejected

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It is good that beekeeping remains prohibited in the city of Zagreb

- Solitary bees and other wild pollinators saved from threats

At the 20th session of the City Assembly of the City of Zagreb, the proposal to allow urban beekeeping in the city was justifiably rejected and in favor of wild bees and citizens of Zagreb. Urban beekeeping has been banned in the city of Zagreb for decades, and there are many justified reasons for this. Urban beekeeping can further threaten the already poor biodiversity of wild bees.

Pollination of about 90 percent of plant species and 75 percent of agricultural crops in the world depends on bees and other pollinators, and in our climate the most important pollinators are insects, primarily wild bees. However, approximately one out of 10 species of bees in Europe is facing extinction, with wild solitary bees in particular at risk, which play a key role in pollinating fruit trees and other cultivated plants and preserving biological diversity. Wild solitary bees are also threatened because most of the initiatives are focused on honeybees, which is why it’s important that the ban on bee breeding remains active in Zagreb, without exception.

The problem is the small number of meadows and flowers in cities, which are the main source of food for bees and other pollinators. The main cause of the decline in the number of bees in the world is the cultivation of monocultures and the lack of plant diversity, not the lack of beekeepers and hives. If we want biodiversity, we need to plant plants that will attract pollinators instead of deliberately bringing in cultivated bees.

Another danger that occurs with beekeeping in cities is the spread of infection from sick to healthy hives. In addition, beekeeping in the city represents a potential danger and health hazard for citizens. A honeybee sting is poisonous and dangerous for people who are allergic to it. Unlike them, wild solitary bees are known for their peacefulness, and in the event of a sting, the solitary bee does not die, but pulls out the stinger, and no cases of allergic reaction have been recorded.

Due to the awareness of the importance of protecting solitary bees in other cities, there are excellent initiatives that would be worth applying in Zagreb as well. For example, in the arboretum of the Forestry School in Karlovac, the first Karlovac bee hotel was set up in 2021, an enclosure that is filled with several types of holey material and imitates the natural habitat of insects that do not have enough space for overwintering and breeding in cities. Through the action of making and setting up hotels for insects, nesting places for solitary bees are ensured, and this also contributes to raising awareness of the importance of pollinators for the stability of the ecosystem.

"Beekeeping is the deliberate mass breeding of bees, which does not contribute to biodiversity, and it really has no place in the city of Zagreb, which should be a modern city that strives for sustainable development and also a positive example for other Croatian cities of how to preserve biodiversity and nurture the coexistence of citizens with bees and other wild insects in the city," Animal Friends Croatia say.

"In city gardens and other green areas, the number of seedlings of plants that pollinators like should be increased, as well as the number of seedlings and green areas in general.. This would attract wild bees and other pollinators to Zagreb, which creates diversity. Planting trees, bushes, flowering plants, and moderate mowing of meadows also helps coexistence with small birds, crows and other insects," adds Animal Friends Croatia.

Translated by Vito Čubrilo

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