We can barely touch the surface of the science of Biophilia and the disciplines it encompasses, but to give you a glimpse, we present the last of four examples of how different peoples and countries are putting their biofeelings to work around the world. Each of these initiatives represents a way to reach thousands of other people with the message that biophilic elements have real value in the built environment. The more we each understand this, the more likely we are to protect the natural spaces we have left.
All over the world, beekeeping has become increasingly popular as a way for urban dwellers to reconnect with nature. The people of London have embraced it for a whole host of reasons: the honey, the stress relief, and the connection with nature. After all, beekeeping is ideal in a city of parks and gardens. London’s remarkable 25% green space is provided by private gardens of all sizes and types. Elegant garden squares, open public spaces, and the famous Royal Parks, such as Hyde Park, Kensington gardens and St. James’s Park. Together, these are home to a huge diversity of plant life.
THE TASTE OF HONEY
The rich variety of forage available here results in an amazingly complex tasting, and plentiful, supply of honey. It’s not just urban farmers and community gardeners who are getting involved, but people from all walks of life. They do it to help the environment and — perhaps most importantly — to escape the stresses of modern life. In short, they do it to put a little natural warmth back into their cool city lives.
WHERE DO THE BEES LIVE?
From back yards to Buckingham Palace, beehives are almost anywhere in London. More surprisingly, you can now find beehives on many of London’s rooftops — where bees need particularly careful handling. St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern have them on their roofs, looked after by expert beekeepers. Historic department store Fortnum & Mason has had particular success with its sixth-floor hives, producing its exclusive Fortnum’s Bees Honey.
2500 Hives registered in London / 50,000 Bees in each hive / 70 lbs. of Honey from each hive in every season
NO BEES. NO PLANTS. NO PEOPLE.
In A World Without Bees, urban beekeeping experts Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum discuss how, if all the world’s bees disappeared, mankind would have only four years left to live. Without bees, there’s no pollination, and without pollination, there are no plants — and soon no animals, and then no humans. It’s a sobering thought that the western honeybee pollinates 70% of the food we eat. And it’s an extremely sound reason to become a beekeeper.
THE BEEKEEPER’S FRIEND
But if the ultimate aim is to save bees (and therefore ourselves), it’s important to do it properly. Keeping thousands of bees happy, healthy and productive is a complex craft. Anyone who looks into a beehive is enthralled by this mesmerizing miracle of organization. And there’s
plenty of help for those who want to learn. For example, The London Beekeepers Association (LBKA) offers in-depth training and a mentoring program, which supports novice beekeepers, passing on a wealth of experience.
BEE FRIENDLY GARDENS
City dwellers that don’t practice beekeeping can still help protect our ecology and our food chain. “You don’t have to keep bees to save them,” says the LBKA, “There are many other useful things we can all do. We can plant ‘pollinator-friendly’ flowers, trees and plants. We can also stop using pesticides in our gardens. And we can support our local beekeepers by buying their honey.”
Inspired to Act Natural? Learn more about biophilia and how it influences our design, and enter our Act Natural Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for two to Greenbuild 2012.