22 April 2021

Milan gets buzzier with bees in designer hives

22 April 2021

Italy’s financial and fashion capital Milan has got a little buzzier with a project that mixes biodiversity with art.

A bee collective has introduced 17 new colonies to new designer hives, bringing to one million the city’s population of honeybees cultivated by the Urban Beehives project.

Creator Claudia Zanfi said the project aims to “create an intersection between artistic language and biodiversity”.

The art is in the form of hives designed by international artists and the biodiversity comes from the bees, which help pollinate plants in the city’s expanding green spaces.

Italy Beekeeper Francesco Capoano moves a frame from a hive at an apiary in Milan, ItalyDay (AP)

The new hives were introduced to their homes in the Cascina Merlata Park, 20 hectares (50 acres) of new park dedicated last year on land used for the Expo 2015 World’s Fair, which focused on food, food security and nutrition.

The seven-year-old, prize-winning project is aimed at educating the public about the importance of bees to the environment, while boosting their population and producing a sweet treat of honey.

It is billed as the biggest urban bee collective in Europe, with hives placed in four public parks in the city.

“Urban Beehives is a redevelopment project of urban green through the reintroduction of bees in the city,” Ms Zanfi said.

“There always have been bees in the city, but creating a public space for them is what is new.”

Beekeeper Francesco Capoano holds a frame at an apiary in Milan, Italy (AP)

Starting next week, Ms Zanfi’s group Green Island will offer courses and workshops at the park on beekeeping and the bees’ critical role in helping maintain a healthy planet.

Two years ago, the Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organisation sounded an alarm that declining bee populations pose a threat to global food security and nutrition.

“The bees have a fundamental role for our lives, but also for the life of the planet,” Ms Zanfi said.

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