Urban gardening and urban beekeeping – that is, the planting of vegetables and the keeping of bee colonies on roofs and terraces in the middle of cities – is a trend worldwide, including in Zurich. Whoever thinks that beekeeping is child’s play would be wrong, however.
One of Zurich’s pioneers in the field of beekeeping is biologist Helena Greter. For years she’s been dedicated to bees, hosting several colonies and selling "Honig us Züri" (honey from Zurich). Her bees are regular visitors to Zurich’s parks, gardens and fields. She knows from experience that beekeeping is no easy task. For city folk who are interested in keeping bees, she recommends a two-year course.
In recent years there have been numerous reports of bee colonies dying out, for reasons which are still unclear. Is it the varroa mite, unintentionally imported from the far East, that’s responsible? Is it the harmful pesticides, the monocultures, or other ecological influences? One thing is clear: man and nature need these small, industrious creatures. Both wild bees and honey bees are responsible for pollinating a major portion of our cultivated and wild plants. Thus the keeping of bees in the city is certainly a welcome pastime.
(Photos: Anne Gabriel-Jürgens, Text: Gaby Ochsenbein, swissinfo.ch)