Politicians will no longer be the only ones swarming the French National Assembly. Three large beehives have been installed on the rooftop of the 18th century palace that houses the lower house of parliament, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, bees will move into the hives once the weather warms up. They are expected to produce about 150 kilograms of honey a year that will be given to schoolchildren on educational visits or charities.
The installation comes about two months after EU lawmakers proposed a ban on pesticides linked to bee colony decline. In 2008 alone, 30 percent of Europe’s 13.6 million beehives failed due tohabitat loss and a little-understood phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, noted NBC News. European countries have campaigned to put bees on urban rooftops to help maintain their populations; the important pollination work bees do to help crops reproduce is worth more than $190 billion a year, according a 2011 United Nations report.
Urban environments may be healthier for bees because there are fewer pesticides used and many varieties of greenery, noted Reuters. According to BBC, Paris has officially been a pesticide-free zone for more than 10 years and the city is quickly becoming the “urban bee-keeping capital of the world.” The rooftops of the 19th Century Palais Garnier and Opera Bastille are already buzzing with activity: their hives produce more than a ton of honey per harvest, which is sold publicly to fund beekeeping classes and facilities, writes NBC News.
(More: The Buzz on Bees)
The new hives perched atop the National Assembly have a nationalist hum as well, painted in the red, white and blue of the French flag. When summer comes, as many as 50,000 bees can be packed into the windowless structures. The number will drop to 15,000 in winter, according to Reuters.