August 5, 2009

British Conservationists Introduce Backyard Beehive

A British conservation agency has become the proud new owner of a new plastic beehive that is intended for the urban environment.

On Wednesday, Natural England announced that it had begun use of the first "contemporary beehive for the urban beekeeper" aimed at revitalizing the bee population in the UK.

The new urban beehive, called the Beehaus, was developed by UK-based Omlet, which specializes in backyard chicken houses.

The first Beehaus was placed on Natural England's office roof in Victoria, London, overlooking Westminster Cathedral.

The Beehaus features twice the space of a traditional beehive, which its developers hope will allow for a greater likelihood of larger swarms.

"Bees provide us with honey but also play a vital role in pollinating plants - from farmland crops to trees, flowers and garden vegetables "“ bringing critical benefits to people and to the natural environment," said Dr Tom Tew, Chief Scientist for Natural England. "We need to recognize that, if we want plants to flourish, we need healthy populations of insects to sustain them."

Britain is home to 250 different bee species, but with the growth in urban environments, the populations have been on the decline.

The Beekeepers' Association estimates that nearly a third of honeybee colonies in the UK have been lost from 2007-2008.

The Beehaus features legs that will keep the bees out of the coldest air in winter when they are hibernating.

"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."

The Beehaus is available at a cost of 495 pounds, or $840.


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