Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Paris Rooftops Swarm with Bees as Urban Honey Industry Takes Off

By Charles Bremner, The Times (UK), 8/18/2009

Tourists are not the only species swarming on the Champs Élysées this August. Also enjoying the sunshine are squadrons of bees, part of a fast-multiplying population that is making honey a new Parisian industry.

The Tuileries, Luxembourg and other lesser gardens of Paris are now home to hundreds of thousands of bees that are far more productive than their country cousins.

“There are a huge quantity of flowers in Paris,” said Yves Védrenne, the general secretary of the National Apiculture Union. As well as the city’s lush parks and gardens, the boulevards and edges of motorways offer pollen well suited to bees, such as acacias, limes and chestnuts.

Not only is the city largely free from the pesticides and fertilisers that are killing the countryside bees, the warmth of the urban area promotes earlier breeding…

The honey flavour is described by experts as sweet and subtle, lacking any trace of exhaust fumes or the Métro underground smell that has become a Paris signature.

The national bee-keeping body has recently reported high mortality in the country near corn, sunflower and rapeseed fields. Bee deaths across Europe have been 30 to 35 per cent higher than average since the 1980s. French figures show that bees in urban areas produce about twice the amount of honey as rural ones. Similar figures are reported from New York…

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