Apicentre is a new initiative to set up and support natural bee sanctuaries by repurposing unused land and equipping it with "apicentric" hives that prioritise the needs of bees, as a natural way to nurture native bee populations.
“Apicentric ” hives focus on the welfare of bees, rather than on the creation of products for commercial use – honey, royal jelly, beeswax – to which beekeeping is more traditionally associated. Apicentre’s mission similarly focuses on bees and their health.
Apicentre’s guiding principle is to provide bee populations the best possible chance for a natural recovery. We provide them with shelter, support their environment, and then step back and leave them free to live, thrive and swarm at their pace, according to the rules they have established for themselves since millions of years ago.
Apicentre, with the support of Swiss organisation IKU Consulting, has become a Swiss-based not-for-profit association.
Bees have long been recognised as a keystone species in our ecosystem. When moving from plant to plant, bees carry pollen with them, stimulating the genetic interchange that allows flowers and plants to go to seed. Bees are able to pollinate 71 of the Top-100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Bees also play a role in the pollination of vegetables, fruits, berries, as well as many herbs and nuts, and inedible produce such as cotton or foodstuff for livestock. Without bee pollination, a large swathe of the plant life that the human food chain replies upon would quickly die off - and us, too.
The recent global decline in bee colony health is an early indicator of an ecological disaster waiting to happen. The average colony loss throughout the winters of 2012 to 2015 was in the order of 40%-50% across the USA. While slightly improving, 33% of colonies have still been lost in the 2016-2017 winter.
This decline in bee populations has been recognised by the scientific community as connected to several complex causes, including increased pollution, the industrial use of pesticides in agro-business sector, and general loss of natural habitat. While only part of this puzzle, we believe that helping to support natural habitats geared towards the actual needs of bee populations will contribute to supporting healthy colony growth, and mitigate some of the effects of habitat loss.
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We want to invert the global trend in the downturn of bee colony health by creating new micro-environments, in which we can provide natural conditions favourable to bees, so as to bolster their numbers and biodiversity, and thereby strengthen the overall pollination profile in regions where agricultural production is key to the local environment.
We have decided to focus our efforts on the large amount of unused land across Europe. Such land includes small lots that are of limited commercial value, private fields, unused agricultural land, or land that often sits neglected during cumbersome development disputes. While neglected by some, this land represents a huge potential asset for bees. By repurposing this land into wildflower meadows, we can provide natural, pesticide-free habitats supportive of healthy bee colonisation, from which they can swarm off to new locations. In doing so, we also make arrangements with landowners from whom we obtain the land to ensure we are able to safely redeploy in the area any hive installed.