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Honeybees in Ginza

Honeybees, unlike hornets, seldom sting people. Since honeybees are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and susceptible to mites and pesticides, they are having difficulty surviving in the countryside. Ginza is a surprisingly suitable environment. Even though Tokyo’s air is polluted with exhaust fumes, it’s not fumes but pesticide that is now the leading threat to honeybees. A bee’s life span is only about a month, whatever toxins they might get from the air don’t accumulate to any great extent in their bodies. Honeybees only fly in the sky for a week to 10 days, and they spend the rest of their lives cleaning their hives, according to a veteran beekeeper.

Ginza’s advantage is its proximity to the Imperial Palace, in and around which many different plants, flowers and trees provide bees with bountiful supplies of nectar including cherry blossoms in spring.

At the start of the Ginza Honeybee Project, March 2006, some people were concerned about safety as they thought that keeping so many bees in such a densely populated area could be dangerous for people. After the group thoroughly explained the behavior of bees to the tenants of the building, they successfully agreed to place beehives on the rooftop. Ever since the project was launched, there was never a case where anyone was attacked by the bees.

Honeybees collect pollen in “baskets” on their hind legs and the nectar, from which they make honey, stored in a specialized extra stomach. It is a difficult task of carrying nectar and pollen from flower to hive. If we think about in human terms, it’s like walking with a watermelon tied to each leg. A typical bee’s life lasts only 30 days.

The amount of honey one bee can produce in its lifetime is only half a spoonful. It teaches us how precious their lives are.