13 Aug 2013:
Too Many Urban Beehives
May Do More Harm Than Good, Experts Say
A surge in urban beekeeping may be doing more harm than good to honeybee populations
, according to UK scientists. As the number of rooftop hives increases in cities worldwide
— including London, where there are now 10 hives per square kilometer — two
researchers from the University of Sussex warn that too many hives can be a dangerous thing. Writing in The Biologist
, the magazine of the Society of Biology, they suggest that inexperienced beekeepers can create conditions in which there isn’t enough food for their insects. “If there are too many colonies in an area, then the food supply will be insufficient,” Francis Ratnieks, a professor at the university’s Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, told the BBC. “This will mean that colonies do not thrive, and may also affect other species that also visit flowers.” In addition, the presence of too many colonies managed by novice beekeepers can promote the spread of contagious diseases. More than 33 percent of Britian’s honeybee colonies were lost last winter, although the exact causes are not known.