Protecting bees and residents alike
By Joe Wickman A LOCAL government initiative has led to the existence of more bees than people in Valencia city, while complaints have decreased by around 40%.
The use of plant-protection products in surrounding fields had increased the number of bees that lived nearby and which would eventually make their way into the city. In order to tackle this issue, the government installed beehives in areas where they would not become a nuisance for residents, as well as numerous other in- stallations around the city that attract the insects. Once the bees reach the latter, experts transfer them to the hives, thus ensuring they stay in safe areas for residents.
Ensuring the safety and coexistence of insects and humans in this way has led to the curious fact that there are an estimated 800,000 bees and 790,000 people living in the city. The hives are regularly visited by students, associations and neighbourhood groups who wish to learn more about them, and the honey obtained is rou- tinely given out to visitors or at local fairs.
Vicente Pradas, beekeeper and one of the people who came up with the idea, explains that ‘humans can coexist with bees, because if they don’t feel threatened, they aren’t aggressive. However, when a hive is detected, it usually sounds the alarm among the population.’ He added that ‘since we got this measure up and running, the number of complaints regarding bee colonies has decreased between 30 and 50%’.
With this project, Valencia joins cities such as London or Paris in recognising ‘the environmental value of these insects’, and has become the first Spanish city to implement this type of measure. A man from Valencia was sentenced to four years in prison late last week after being declared guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The incident took place in February 2017, when the offender got into a heated discussion with his partner. During the argument, which occurred in the house where they both lived, at one point he grabbed and forcefully shook her. As a result of his actions, she fell down the building’s stairwell and died from the impact. As well as the four-year prison sentence, the offender will have to pay both the woman’s daughters €52,000 in compensation, and he will also have to serve 60 days of community service.