Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Plastics Bring Sweet, Environmental Bzzz-ness to British Urbanites

Photo Courtesy of Omlet

Yesterday, Natural England, a British government conservation agency, officially prodded urban citizens to take up beekeeping, and gave its stamp of approval to a plastic product called the Beehaus, describing it as a “new, contemporary beehive for the urban beekeeper.”

Apparently Britain’s bee population is in decline due to parasites, disappearing habitat, wet weather and pesticides. The fear is that a disappearance of bees will impair food crops and the environment because the vast majority of flowering plants depend on bees (and other pollinators) to help them reproduce.

In a Natural England press release, Chief Scientist Tom Tew said, “Bees provide us with honey but also play a vital role in pollinating plants… bringing critical benefits to people and to the natural environment. We need to recognise that, if we want plants to flourish, we need healthy populations of insects to sustain them. There is no reason why our towns and cities should exist as wildlife deserts – wildlife can thrive when we design our urban areas with nature in mind and the Beehaus is a great example of how easy it is for anyone to bring the natural world closer to their doorstep.” According to the BBC,the first Beehaus will be installed on Natural England’s office roof in London.

A spokeswoman for Omlet, the Beehaus manufacturer, tells SPI that the product is made of rotationally molded medium density polyethylene (or MDPE, a thermoplastic resin) and features “all around triple pocket insulation” that reduces heat loss. Bees need to maintain a constant temperature to raise their young. The smooth plastic makes it easier to clean and disinfect than wood hives, keeping the hive free of bacterial diseases such as American or European Foulbrood.

Designed specifically to make beekeeping — and honey harvesting — on city rooftops and balconies simple and fun, the plastic hives are available in five colors and are priced at just over $800. Check out this video of the Beehaus in action.

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