The Berlin Cathedral, one of the main landmarks and most stunning edifices in the city, is home to tens of thousands of quite unlikely residents. Beneath its dome, the cathedral hides one of more than 15 hives installed on various prominent Berlin buildings, all parts of the “Berlin is buzzing!” initiative, which aims to draw attention to the difficult situation bees are now in.
The initiative was launched in 2010 by biologist Corinna Hoelzer and her husband Uwe Marth, The Washington Post reports. The biologist was inspired by an amateur beekeeper who established a bee colony on the roof of a Paris opera house in the 1980s. Since the beginning of the project, “Berlin is buzzing!” and its sister project “Germany is buzzing!” have put up hives and special bee “hotels” on buildings such as Berlin’s state legislature, a city theater, a planetarium, and the German finance ministry. One has also been installed in the park of the President’s residence. The hive on the Berlin Cathedral is being tended to by beekeeper Uwe Marth and hosts some 30,000 bees. The enterprise is now active in 25 cities in Germany.
Bees, although more important for our planet than most of us even imagine, have unfortunately been on the decline for years. In the past few decades, the population of bees in the U.S. has been decreasing by 30 percent each year. The overuse of neonicotinoids, an insecticide sprayed on crops, climate change, and habitat loss are all contributing to the downfall of bee species. What many people don’t realize, however, is the role that these insects play in our daily lives. 70 of the top 100 food crops grown in the world rely on bees for pollination, which is equivalent to 90 percent of the world’s nutrition. It was found that just two percent of wild bee species contribute 80 percent of the crop pollination visits observed globally – which makes the disappearance of that small percent a very bleak prospect.
“Honeybees are a great reference to explain everything else,” Hoelzer told The Washington Post. “Without pollinators, we don’t have a healthy ecosystem.”
Fortunately, we are beginning to wake up to the fact that it is really in our best interest to realize the problem and start protecting pollinators. The U.N. General Assembly has declared May 20th World Bee Day, an idea initiated by beekeepers in Slovenia. On that occasion, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged everyone to “to think about biodiversity and do something good for bees,” emphasizing the gravity of the issue. And Hoelzer’s initiative is a wonderful way to actively help the invaluable pollinators and shed more light on the issue, educating others and letting them realize the significance of bees.
It is vitally important that we all take action in our everyday lives to help bees, as our own survival could depend on it. Here are just a few steps you can take:
- Buy local, organic produce (grown without the pesticides that harm bees).
- If you have a backyard, one powerful action you can take is to start growing plants that appeal to bees, such as lavender, sage, tomatoes, pumpkin, and mint, among many others.
- Avoid the use of harmful pesticides while gardening.
- Leave small containers of water for bees to drink from when they visit your backyard – bees get thirsty too!
- Let your public representatives know that protecting bees is a vitally important issue. This could be an especially important step to take whenever a bill aimed at protecting bees is being debated in your state!
Image source: sumx/Pixabay