05/02/23 The ban on urban beekeeping must remain

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Animal Friends' reaction to today's beekeeper's protest in Zagreb

Numerous problems in cities with urban beekeeping are a lesson in why it should not be allowed in Croatia.

Animal Friends reacted to today's protest by the beekeepers' association in Zagreb, where beekeepers again demanded the introduction of urban beekeeping." We appeal to the City of Zagreb to maintain a very justified ban on bee breeding in Zagreb and to increase the number of plant seedlings in city gardens and other green areas that would attract wild bees and other pollinators, which generate diversity. Also, planting trees, shrubs, and flower vegetation, as well as moderate mowing of meadows, helps coexistence with small birds, crows, and insects," Animal Friends say.

They point out that they consider occasional initiatives to encourage urban beekeeping unprofessional and insufficiently thought-out because they will not increase the number of bees in the city. "Urban beekeeping only increases the number of bees in the short term to a level where hives become competitors for each other's food. The reason for this is the limited number of wild meadows and wildflowers in cities, which are the primary source of food for bees and other pollinators. The leading cause of the decline in the number of bees in the world is the cultivation of monocultures and the lack of diversity of vegetation, not the lack of beekeepers and hives," Animal Friends explains.

Approximately one in 10 bee species in Europe is threatened with extinction, with wild solitary bees being particularly endangered, which play a key role in pollinating fruit trees and other cultivated plants and preserving biodiversity. While the honey bee can visit up to 2000 flowers a day, solitary bees visit up to 5,600 flowers a day! Nevertheless, wild solitary bees are also endangered because most of the initiatives, including those of Zagreb beekeepers, are focused on honey bees. But pollination of about 90 percent of plant species and 75 percent of crops in the world depends on bees and other pollinators, and in our country, the most important pollinators remain primarily wild bees.

Breeding bees in the city is associated with various dangers. One of them is the possibility of spreading the infection from the sick to healthy hives, whereby all infected hives are burned. "In addition, the breeding of bees in the city poses a potential danger and a health threat. The sting of honey bees is poisonous and dangerous for people allergic to it. Unlike them, wild solitary bees are recognized for their peacefulness; they have a sting, but they do not sting," Animal Friends warns. They add that by allowing urban beekeeping, the city should take responsibility when an accident occurs, which can also be fatal because it would be a breeding species for which someone should issue a permit. All of the above proved to be a problem in cities that allowed urban beekeeping.

They believe that instead of thinking about urban beekeeping, Zagreb should turn to already proven initiatives for the protection of solitary bees. One such excellent example is the so-called hotel for solitary bees in the arboretum of the Forestry School in Karlovac. To increase biodiversity, a mandatory requirement has been introduced in the English city of Brighton that every new residential building above five meters must have special bricks with a series of narrow openings, which provide nests for solitary bees. Similar policies have been adopted by other cities in the United Kingdom. In the Dutch city of Utrecht, about three hundred bus stops have received green roofs, whose planted plants create a new haven for various types of bees. Residents are encouraged by various incentives to make small urban green oases on their roofs. In Vienna, however, to preserve wild bees, it is recommended to avoid the use of insecticides.

Animal Friends concludes that beekeeping, as a deliberate mass breeding of bees, really has no place in the city. That is why positive examples of caring for wild bees should be a guideline to Zagreb on how to develop into a modern city that strives for sustainable development and an indicator to other Croatian cities on how to preserve biodiversity and foster coexistence with bees and other wild insects in the city.

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