Build a bee oasis

We protect biodiversity in the urban environment

Part of our anniversary events was the hands-on workshop "Build a bee oasis" - an urban intervention that transformed the pocket park on Ioannou Michail and Agapinou Street, in the neighbourhood of Alexandrou Svolou, into one of the few bee-friendly spaces in Thessaloniki. The workshop we held with the specialized team The Bee Camp aimed to learn things about these busy insects and raise awareness about the dangers that threaten them, but also to do some plantings so that they can find food.

Insects are a fundamental part of the basis of life in our world - and especially pollinating insects like bees, thanks to which we have a third of our food! However, due to industrial farming, pesticides and the loss of their habitats, their global population has declined dramatically with an alarming impact for everyone. In addition, urban areas, and more specifically Greek cities, which have little greenery and a very small variety of plants, are inhospitable places for bees, which practically cannot find flowers suitable for feeding and thus cannot survive.

The workshop was implemented by Anthi Founda and Angelina Kanellopoulou of The Bee Camp, who gave us a lot of useful information about bees and their crucial role both in ecosystems and in human nutrition. Then we jointly planted bee-friendly plants - rich in nectar and pollen - such as oregano, lavender, rosemary, basil, echinacea and sage, creating the conditions for attracting pollinating insects to the park and enhancing the biodiversity of our cities.

So, within the urban desert we have indeed created a bee oasis, reclaiming public space with a notion of urban design where all people, families and species are welcome!

The hands-on workshop "Build a bee oasis" was held in the pocket park at Ioannou Michail and Agapinou Street - an emblematic example of bottom-up urban intervention. The park was willingly provided to us for this event by the assembly of the Alexandrou Svolou Neighborhood Initiative.
The bees give us much more than honey. It is estimated that we owe a third of our food to these busy creatures and their pollinating role! However, due to industrial farming and pesticides, their population worldwide has suffered a dramatic decline with evident consequences for everyone...
The workshop was designed by The Bee Camp, the first organization in Greece for the protection of bees. Our aim was to raise awareness, to make plantings in order to attract pollinating insects and thus to contribute to urban biodiversity.
We started with introductory games, where everyone was asked to say something they know about bees. Here, Kiriaki Metaxa, coordinator of the ecology programme at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, reports on her experiences with the endearing insects.
Some of the most impressive things we learned is that there are over 20,000 species of bees and that the vast majority of them (around 90%) live solitary rather than socially in hives. Furthermore, over 70% of the species live underground, in holes they dig in the soil!
All 20,000 species of bees feed on nectar and flower pollen. As they fly from one flower to another, the pollen sticks to their fluffy bodies and is carried to other flowers. This is the process of pollination, thanks to which flowers are fertilized and turn into seeds and fruits.
Our cities, having very little greenery and very little variety of plants, are not at all friendly to bees. Therefore, part of the workshop was the planting of flowers rich in pollen and nectar so that insects can feed.
Among bee-friendly plants are oregano, lavender, rosemary, basil, echinacea and sage. Moreover, these plants do not need special care and people can use them in many ways.
Anthi Founda (left) and Angelina Kanellopoulou (right) from The Bee Camp, who introduced us to the secrets of bees and to their special role in ecosystems.
An urban oasis (also) for bees is a message that we can collectively reclaim public space and create spots where all people, families and species are welcome!