"Through honey, and the symbol of the beehive and the bee, a whole field of experiments can be organized around man's environmental footprint in the urban environment. "Taste your city", "Taste your neighborhood" are an extraordinary way to promote this biodiversity, in the direct lineage of the values of the Veolia Foundation. Above all, the project offers another dimension of the human aspect and of the interaction with the population of the city."
Scientists and ecological militants have been sounding the alarm for many decades: the confirmed disappearance of the bees is causing a lack of pollenization of the vegetation. Deeply engaged in this issue, the nonprofit Le Parti Poétique installed an experimental beehive in 2000 on the roof of the town hall of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) and, since 2004, created various agricultural installations in the public space. Its aim is to set up experiments in cohabitation between bees and humans, by pooling various types of expertise (artistic, scientific, urban, educational) in order to educate the public at large about this major challenge.
Backed by the Veolia Foundation since 2009, Parti Poétique has developed many projects, including a swarming and educational center (Zone sensible) and a federative and traveling project (The Honey Bank). Located in Saint-Denis, Zone sensible is at once a place for honey production a reception and educational space for the public. It houses a collaborative honeyhouse, a workshop for the construction of prototype urban beehives, an office for data retrieval, production, collection and storage. Actively supported by the local authorities (City of St Denis, towns of the Urban Community, General Council of Saint-Denis, Île-de-France region), it welcomed nearly 600 children in 2011. And the Honey Bank has also registered a big success, its membership network having grown to over a thousand in two years, and still growing alongside the networks of the population in Blanc-Mesnil, Saint-Denis, Grenoble, Paris, Rouen, London, Geneva and The Hague (Netherlands).
From the Honey Bank to the Queen Bank, only one short step
In 2011, Parti Poétique decided, simultaneously and in addition to the production of honey with the Honey Bank, to promote a bank for bees, swarms and queens with the "Queen Bank". This will guarantee the survival of the black bee, an endemic species of the Paris region which has nearly disappeared in favor of imported species. Thus the Honey Bank produces honey which is sold to pay the beekeepers directly so that they thrive and produce bee swarms (in the Queen Bank) and thereby create a safety and guaranteed stock for the beekeepers (to whom the queens are provided free of charge) who have suffered serious losses of bees. Each step of this "self-supplied" mechanism has been carried out separately for the last several years in various places by Olivier Darné, founder of Parti Poétique (Paris, Geneva, London, Saint-Denis, etc.).
A breeding farm for black bees, and more . . .
Not only does the Queen Bank enable the beekeepers to reconstitute their stock at no cost, but it constitutes a solidarity network between the professionals and amateurs, capable of fostering an exchange of practices and of expertise between the various environmental players (beekeepers, as well as ethologists, botanists, etc.). A prototype (a score of hives in Saint-Denis) has been created, but it is too narrow to welcome visitors and school groups. Hence it is important to build a 25m2 reception and mediation space in Saint-Denis, right next to the Zone Sensible, on the roof of the present honeyhouse of Parti Poétique.
Continuing its support for Parti Poétique, the Veolia Foundation joins the public supervisory authorities of the nonprofit who participate in the operation and programming of Zone Sensible and of the Honey Bank. By assuming a part of the project infrastructure and investment expenditures, it contributes both to improving the reception of the classes on Zone Sensible (creation of a handrail, a bench to welcome a group of children on the educational beehive, and a second room for the educational and research workshops) and in creating the Queen Bank; furnishing of the breeding center, creation of access facilities, hive support structures, mediation space, an educational garden of honey-bearing plants and herbal teas, purchase of agriculture and breeding equipment.
OTHER PROJECT SUPPORTED
Domain: Environment and Biodiversity
Creation of a resource center and raising public awareness about environmental conservation via the role of pollinating bees.