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Boycott launches ‘biodiversity buzz’ at Bankside bee hives

Rosie Boycott, food advisor to the Mayor of London, came to Bankside on Thursday to launch a campaign to encourage community bee keeping in the capital.

Tate Honey
Jars of honey from beehives at Tate Modern are now on sale

'Capital Bee', part of the Capital Growth scheme supported by the Mayor, is offering up to 50 community food growing groups the opportunity to receive a bee hive, basic equipment, a bee colony and training.

Entries from groups requesting the package will need to demonstrate a strong commitment to maintaining the bee hive responsibly. The training for winning recipients will start in spring next year with hives expected to be up and running by spring 2012.

Capital Bee was launched at the bee hives on the roof of Tate Modern with the assistance of their bee keeper Steve Benbow from the London Honey Company.

Steve's buzzing business began on the roof of his block of flats near Tower Bridge. He now manages hives across the country, including at Fortnum & Mason.

Honey from Bankside's own bees is now sold by the Tate Shop.

"'Bees and the skilled art of bee keeping have been an essential feature of city life for millennia," says Boris Johnson.

"This is due simply to the fact that the humble bee is vital for food production, helping green spaces to thrive and acting as a reliable ecological barometer for the health of our natural environment.

"As a logical next step to our initiative to create community food gardens and beautify neglected parts of London, we are taking practical steps to create a 'buzz' around urban bees.

"Capital Bee is also set to investigate new enterprise opportunities such as those coming from the production of delicious, locally cultivated London honey."

Capital Bee also hosted a bee summit at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday. The aim was to contribute to wider debate about the cause of bee decline in urban settings as well as share ideas for how Londoners can help.

Rosie Boycott, chair of London Food, said: "A declining bee population has potentially catastrophic consequences for human life as we know it.

"With more and more people living in cities, it is important we seek to learn more about urban bee decline and how we can reverse this worrying trend.

"Our bee keeping competition offers Londoners a response to this problem, whilst we have also bought together experts to help explore the additional solutions.

"But anyone can help the cause of bees whether by planting bee-friendly plants or simply learning to appreciate them as a friend not a foe."

• For competition and application details on how to become a Capital Bee community space, visit www.capitalbee.org

• The competition is open for entries until 28 January 2011. Winners will be notified by Friday 18 February following a site visit.

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