The bee population of central London has more than doubled in four years, from 1,618 registered colonies in 2008 to 3,337 today, according to the London Beekeepers Association (LBKA). That organisation has now said that we might have too many bees, contrary to the usual messages of apian doom.
InMidtown — a group promoting business in the Holborn, Bloomsbury and St Giles area — is one of the key players in this superaddition. According to the BBC, it has prompted a 40% rise in London honey production in the past year, by encouraging businesses to set up rooftop colonies. This contrasts with the situation across England and Wales for the same period, which has seen a 50% reduction on an average year.
Surely the boost in London numbers has to be a good thing, right? Well, it depends who you talk to.
London Wildlife Trust approves of the development, saying it is really encouraged by InMidtown's scheme. But LBKA are less sure, dismissing the project as "bee bling", and emphasising that increased foliage is what's really needed. "We may have too many bees in London," says LBKA secretary Angela Woods. "We are consulting environmental organisations and academics to look at ways to get credible data to find out what's really happening."
And that's the crux of it. As yet, there's no actual data to support the "too many bees" position, and this remains (no doubt well-informed) speculation on the part of LBKA. We'd appreciate any insights from beekeepers in the comments.
Image by SabineTheole in the Londonist Flickr pool.