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Honeybees in Ginza

The most expensive commercial district in Tokyo, Ginza, is world-famous for luxury shopping and dining, and far from the country image of nature with business buildings, shops and restaurants dominating the landscape.

Would you believe 200,000 to 300,000 honeybees are being kept on a rooftop of an 11-story building? Ginza is renowned for its posh clubs, brand-name fashion shops and gourmet eateries, but in fact, for honeybees, the place is a bee-friendly area.

Every morning, the bees take to the air from their wooden hives and travel 2 km to the vast parks of the Imperial Palace, Hamarikyu gardens, Hibiya Park, and throughout the neighborhood’s roadside trees and gardens around Ginza where flowers in season are in bloom year-round. As the season changes, the harvested honey takes the flavor of flowers in bloom and honey bottles are labeled according to the nectar source and marked with the collection date.

The Ginza Honeybee Project was launched in March of 2006 with aim to revive the honey production, and increase awareness of the relationship between bees, nature and people. Since its initial harvest of 150 kg, the Project, amassing a large group of volunteers and supporters, has expanded its operation and increased its honey output to one metric ton a year.

Every Saturday from spring to autumn, volunteers and visitors help in the harvesting of honey. In order to highlight the role bees play in the ecosystem, potted fruits plants requiring pollination are placed near the hive and are used as a teaching tool for incoming field trips of elementary school kids. The rooftop gardens of other buildings in the district are now 12 places, growing nectar-rich flowers and vegetables, including a rice field without any chemical fertilizers and pesticides to boost the number of feeding spots for the Ginza honeybees.