News / Science & Technology

Rooftop Bee Hives Create Buzz Above French Parliament

FILE - Detail of bees on their hive on the rooftop of the Tour d'Argent restaurant overlooking the River Seine in Paris, September 24, 2010.
FILE - Detail of bees on their hive on the rooftop of the Tour d'Argent restaurant overlooking the River Seine in Paris, September 24, 2010.
Reuters
The roof of France's National Assembly is ready to buzz with activity after the arrival of three large bee hives this week as part of a project to promote pesticide-free honey.

The bees are expected to be moved in once the weather warms up, should produce up to 150 kg of honey a year and help pollinate flowering plants around the capital at a time of worldwide decline in bee numbers.

The project is part of a new trend across Europe to put bee colonies on city rooftops, taking advantage of the fact that bees adapt well to urban living and can target the many varieties of long-blooming inner-city greenery.

"This is a great symbol for us," Thierry Duroselle, head of the Society of French Beekeepers, talking to Reuters about the new hives perched atop part of the grandiose 18th Century palace on the Seine River that houses the lower house of parliament. "We think it's a nice opportunity to educate people - the public and politicians - on the role of bees."

Despite their reputation for painful stings, bees are vital for human existence. A global decline in their numbers, the reasons for which are baffling scientists, is alarming everyone from farmers to European Union policy makers.

The loss of habitat due to urban expansion, and, in France, an invasion of bee-eating Asian hornets, is adding to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

More than two-thirds of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world's food are pollinated by bees, including  fruit, nuts and grains. A 2011 United Nations report estimates the work done by bees and other pollinators to help food crops reproduce is worth 153 billion euros ($196.57 billion) a year.

The EU is still battling to agree on a ban of farm pesticides linked to the decline of honeybees, but studies show the insects adapt well to city living as the plants they encounter there have been treated with fewer chemicals.

While bee colonies adhere to a firmly royalist system, the hives have been painted in the post-revolutionary French flag colors of red, white and blue in a nod to the swarm of lawmakers below in the Fifth Republic's lower house.

Six volunteer beekeepers from among the National Assembly staff will tend the hives, which are nestled together on a raised platform on the roof of a rear palace building.

Despite their enviable Parisian vista, the bees will be packed tightly into their windowless homes, with each of the hives housing up to 50,000 bees in the summer months, a population that will drop to 15,000 in the winter.

Left-wing lawmaker Laurence Dumont said estimated annual honey production should fill around 800 pots a year which would be given to schoolchildren on educational visits or charities.

Sheep are seen in a 2000m² green space owned by the French capital’s archives service as part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment with a group of Ouessant sheep in the 19th district in Paris, April 3, 2013.Sheep are seen in a 2000m² green space owned by the French capital’s archives service as part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment with a group of Ouessant sheep in the 19th district in Paris, April 3, 2013.
x
Sheep are seen in a 2000m² green space owned by the French capital’s archives service as part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment with a group of Ouessant sheep in the 19th district in Paris, April 3, 2013.
Sheep are seen in a 2000m² green space owned by the French capital’s archives service as part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment with a group of Ouessant sheep in the 19th district in Paris, April 3, 2013.
The farm ministry is working to revive beekeeping and reduce a dependence on imported honey, and Paris already sports bee hives atop other prestigious buildings including the Garnier Opera and the swanky Tour d'Argent left-bank restaurant.

Meanwhile another species began doing its civic duty in the city this week as four fluffy black sheep were unleashed in a public garden under a new plan to use grazing animals, rather than machines, to trim city lawns.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More