I had the good fortune to meet a very intriguing and “free-spirited” gentleman at a seminar in Paris way back in January.
Olivier Demaegdt was in fact a guest speaker at a room full of bankers contributing his opinion of banks from a client’s point of view. Neither an office, nor a 9-to-5 person, he is one curious entrepreneur prodding at niche ideas and obviously having a ton of fun as he succeeds. Of course his impressions of us bankers were very insightful, however what has stayed with me was his captivating endeavour to save the planet by providing a “shelter for bees” in his native France.
In fact this pursuit of Mr. Demaegdt made me recall a fascinating lecture I watched on TED Talks by the outstanding entomologist Marla Spivak. It was a gripping lecture on the alarming consequences the mass disappearance of bees, a phenomonan known as “colony collapse disorder” would have on our habitat. Very clearly and passionately Ms. Spivak relays how the farming practices after WWII have led the way to wipe out many of the flowering plants which the bees very much need for their survival. The bottomline being that bees dying literally reflect a flowerless landscape and a dysfunctional food system.
I admired her simplistic explanation on how the honeybees, the charismatic representative of the 20,000 species of bees, move from flower to flower to feed themselves in order to reap the much needed protein from pollen and carbohydrates from nectar. It is the nourishment need of this complex society with no central authority which allegedly provides the invaluable pollination service for which more than one third of the world’s crop production apparently depends upon. Unfortunately it seems that mostly due to the careless farming practices after WWII, pesticides, pollution, reduced plots of flowering plants which the bees need for their survival, mother nature no longer provides the mandatory habitat bees depend on. Hence the disturbing disapperance of these gorgeous insects and the growing number agricultural food deserts.
The video can be reached via the below link
I imagine that Mr. Demaegdt has picked up on this phenomenon of colony collapse disorder with the intention of saving mother nature and as always having fun along the way.
Under the name of “un toit pour les abeilles” , literally translated as “a roof for bees”, his project offers companies and individuals an opportunity to reserve certain square metres of a flower patch and adopt beehives for honey bees to cultivate. In return the bees thank their sponsors with a personalized “fruit” of their work – their delicious honey. What makes these pots of honey so special is that the pots bear the name of their sponsors (or a name of choice cited).
In order to allow sufficient time to install the beehives and enable the bees to “work”, the company is advising for an engagement of at least a year.
As of today, below are the price quotations.
8 € / month will provide shelter for 4,000 bees yielding 6 pots of 250g honey
14 € / month will provide shelter for 8,000 bees yielding 12 pots of 250g honey
20 € / month will provide shelter for 12,000 bees yielding 18 pots of 250 g of honey
25 € / month will provide shelter for 16,000 bees yielding24 pots of 250 g of honey
More information is available on the website which can be reached via the below link.
The site offering a myriad of information on bees and how the system work is in French, and the adoption of a beehive is only possible in metropolitan France and Belgium. Nevertheless, Mr Demaegdt speaks perfect english so I am sure he would be more than happy to be of help for the Anglophones living in the vicinity.
And with my new appreciation of these complex and gorgeous insects, Maya the bee is definitely part of the circle of my favourite cartoon characters. I now understand more than ever why these kind insects, which are having a difficult time to survive, need as many guardian angels as is possible.
In our collective conscience we know we cannot afford to lose these bees and each of our individual actions can contribute to a grand solution. I believe the least we can all do is to plant more and more flowering plants in our gardens, doorsteps, balconies, contribute by participating in initiatives like “un toit pour les abeilles” and increase the awareness by spreading the word.
Just as the American author, poet, naturalist Henry David Thoreau said way back in the 19th Century, “the keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.”
After all the earth’s health is our health.