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Urban Bees Face a Flower Deficit, Says Swiss Study

An examination of 14 cities in Switzerland adds heft to concerns that urban beehives can overtax city green spaces, potentially harming native pollinators.

Honeybee hives are an increasingly popular urban amenity. 

Honeybee hives are an increasingly popular urban amenity. 

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A recent upsurge in urban beekeeping is outstripping some cities’ abilities to provide for their growing ranks of pollinators, a new study of cities across Switzerland indicates.

The number of registered beehives in 14 Swiss cities expanded from 3,139 in 2012 to 9,370 in 2018, says a new paper published in NPJ Urban Sustainability, part of the Nature portfolio of publications. Yet none of those cities had adequate green space to support their bees, according to modeling by the paper’s authors, two ecologists from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.