Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by M.Štojs

Beekeeping is all the buzz in Ljubljana

Beekeeper Gorazd Trusnovec tending to one of his hives on the roof of Ljubljana’s cultural centre, Spanski Borci

‘Let’s help the little city bee’ (Pomagajmo čebelici v mestu) is the name of a campaign in Ljubljana that aims to support urban beekeeping in the city and its surrounding counties. Now in its second year, the project has created a Bee Trail, a network of properties around the city hosting apiaries and other sites connected to urban beekeeping and its history.

So far, 28 partners have joined the Bee Trail. They include various independent beekeepers as well as public institutions such as Cankarjev dom, a cultural congress centre in the city’s centre, the Plečnik’s House, a Slovenian architectural landmark, and the Ljubljana Botanical Garden.

As part of its European Green Capital year, Ljubljana has organised several events and communication campaigns to increase awareness of the ecological importance of bees. One that took place at the beginning of April encouraged residents to plant flowers on their windows and balconies to provide extra foraging opportunities for honeybees and native wild bee populations. To support the campaign, the city organised an event for the public where flowering plants were sold.

According to urban beekeeper Gorazd Trušnovec, urban honey can take on exciting new flavours due to the diversity of plants available to bees in cities. But like their rural counterparts, urban beekeepers are concerned about the pesticides that their bees are encountering—certain types have been linked to the decline of honeybee populations over the past several years.

As reported in February, cities like Copenhagen have avoided using chemical weedkillers in urban areas for many years now. The city of Ghent, too, has been pesticide-free since 2009. During a PAN Europe webinar in May, the Belgian city's mayor Daniel Termont said: “our pesticide-free approach has become Ghent’s universal policy. The results are clear to see, all around the city. The streets are obviously greener as we are no longer using chemical weedkillers: poppies, buttercups and daisies are peppering the edges of our pavements. Until recently, it was very difficult for bees to survive in our city. Now, Ghent has several beekeepers, who have found the city to be a healthy environment for keeping bees.”

Other events this year in Ljubljana have focused on educating children about bees and beekeeping, particularly the urban variety. And in July architectural students from Ljubljana exhibited their alternative beehive designs for the public.

A closing event on 15 September in Ljubljana’s castle will showcase bee products produced by Ljubljana’s urban beekeepers during the 2016 season—not just honey, but propolis, pollen, royal jelly, and wax.