Many of our crops are dependent on pollinating insects, thus these winged friends are of great importance to food security. Disappearance of bees is a hot topic in the media, but the potential competition between wild bees and honey bees in the city is under-communicated. On 3rd of September the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo (NHM) hosted a science café about this theme.
misconception related to the disappearance of bees is that it’s the honey bees
that are dying, as is the case in USA. In Norway it is the disappearance of
wild bees that is the concern. Shortage of suitable habitats is
a threat to wild bees. Is it right to increase the competition for pollen and
nectar in the city by beekeeping?
experts were invited to a relaxed evening event. The audience was encouraged to ask
questions, make comments and fill in a pre- and post-event questionnaire. Our
goals were to increase the participants’ knowledge of the disappearance of wild
bees in Norway, raise awareness of competition between wild bees and honey bees
in the city, and collect people’s thoughts on the topic.
was composed of an entomologist from our institution (NHM), the leader of the
beekeeping organisation in Oslo (ByBi) and an ecologist from the Norwegian
Institute for Nature Research who researches the competition between wild and
honey bees. In addition to the experts and our staff, 43 people
attended the science café.
Competition between honey bees and wild bees can
naturally lead to disagreements between beekeepers and conservation biologists.
This was not the case in this panel - in Norway the dialogue has been good,
unlike many other countries. There has been a lot of research in rural areas
where competition has been proven. In urban areas, on the other hand, few
studies have been done.
Domestic and wild bee on Heracleum sphondylium. Photo
credit: Bjørn Einar Sakseid
The ecologist gave us a brief summary of ongoing
research in this field, which is scarce. The local authorities, in
collaboration with beekeepers and scientists, have made a map of areas in Oslo with
vulnerable insects in order to avoid beekeeping in these places. The
control of numbers of beehives is good. This corresponds well with the messages
from the audience:
- The policy for
conservation and enrichment of biodiversity must be thoroughly thought
through. Don´t wait for science results before
taking actions for conservation of biodiversity - the precautionary principle.
- Support biodiversity through urban planning, less asphalt and lawns. Employ people with
expertise in biodiversity in development projects and let them influence the
- Citizens need more
information on the importance of pollinators in the city and what they can do
to help them.
In the audience there was a range of levels of
knowledge, from those who knew next to nothing about bees, to those who wanted
to hear about the status on the research in the field. It can be challenging to meet everyone’s
needs and expectations with such a diverse crowd. However, as the majority of
the audience reported that they had learned something and/or had been made
aware of new issues.