Are There Too Many Bees In London? – Counterpoint

Rooftop Beekeeping In London

I believe it’s only fair to give equal time to those readers who take the time and trouble to provide thoughtful commentary on this issue. Here is a comment by Jude Earl:

The arguments put forward by LBKA are flawed – and in some instances totally wrong. In particular :

– The National Bee Unit shows 466 apiaries within a 10km radius of NW5. This is 314 square km …very different from the 10 sq km stated.
– According to London Ecology Unit Data 66% of London is occupied by green spaces and water …of this 22% is private gardens, 22% parks and sports facilities and 22% other habitats inc grassland woods cemeteries canal banks and railway embankments and water
– Even if a generous 22% is discounted as having no potential use for forage –eg waterways sports fields – then there would still be 44% of Greater London’s 1583 square km as potential forage. This doesn’t take into account street trees which provide nectar pollen and honeydew. In 2009 the BBKA stated that 4 or 5 large trees can provide as much forage for bees as an acre of wild flower meadow.

– These figures date back to 2000 and although there has been a loss of green space in some areas it seems unlikely there’s been a significant overall change and in some areas …notably the establishment of the Thames Chase woodland ( where 1.6 million trees are to be planted as mixed woodland) there has been a large increase. There has also been increased awareness of bees and the necessity to plant “ bee friendly” plants in parks and gardens.

– The figures given for honey production of 31lbs per hive (this was the 2011 figure not 2010) is for surplus honey taken from the hive ( the honey left on the hive for the bees is not counted ). This was an average yield over the whole of the South East region which covers all of Sussex Kent and Surrey as well as Greater London …so it seems unlikely that lack of forage alone was to blame for low yields. The South East Regional Bee Inspector put the low yield down to the drought conditions which prevented nectar flow. In Cumbria the yield for 2011 was down to 15-25 lbs per hive and there was a similar pattern in other areas of the country.

– Whilst there may be too many bees and not enough forage in London the arguments put forward so far seem to be low on correct and reliable facts and high on emotive arguments

3 thoughts on “Are There Too Many Bees In London? – Counterpoint

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Jude has some good points… however looking out of my back window at my neighbours’ gardens I can see a lot of paving, sheds and pebbles. Walking around my local area plenty of my neighbours have turned their front gardens into car parks – are these spaces included in the 22% of land occupied by private gardens figure?! Some private gardens may be full of bee friendly forage, but not all of them. It’s also true that we have a lot of street trees, but many of these are plane trees – no good for bees – which were chosen because they cope well with pollution.

    Agree with Jude that we do need more reliable facts, research by an independent body would be good. Without a comprehensive study having been done of the forage available it’s hard to say for sure whether it’s suitable for the amount of bees here.

  2. […] Are There Too Many Bees In London? – Counterpoint (romancingthebee.com) […]

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