Beekeeping on the roof
The rooftop hives are the brainchild of Krister Dahl, Executive Chef at Gothia Towers.
“There are a number of reasons why we decided to keep bees,” explains Krister. “We use local produce and local ingredients, and we love being able to offer our guests honey with their cheese straight from a honeycomb from our own bees, living on the roof above their heads. We’ll also be using the honey as a flavouring for our own beer that we’re currently working on.”
In early spring, there are around 30,000 bees living in the two hives. By the end of summer, there will be 120-160,000. Together, they produce the honey used by Upper House and Gothia Towers for culinary and flavouring purposes.
Pär Svensson is responsible for Upper House’s bees. He works as a project manager within product and design development for the creative agency Stylt Trampoli. But for the last few years, his passion has been bees and beekeeping.
Pär looks after the apiary and ensures that the bees enjoy the best possible conditions in which to thrive and grow.
There are around 15,000 beekeepers in Sweden, but beekeeping as high up as at Gothia Towers – 83 metres above ground level – is rather unusual.
Bees wouldn’t naturally choose to live at such a height, not being particularly fond of harsh winds. However, it turns out that the towers on either side of Upper House protect them from the wind.
Beekeeping in a city is also excellent from a sustainability point of view.
“Despite what you might expect, the city is an excellent location for keeping bees,” says Pär Svensson. “For example, it’s not as easy to practise organic beekeeping in the countryside as it is here at Upper House. The urban environment offers non-toxic flowers as well as a rich variety of nectar and pollen that’s rare in rural areas these days, and it’s great for the bees.”
More than just bees
The roof of Upper House is home to more than just beehives. There’s also a thriving kitchen garden where various herbs, salad shoots, black kale and radishes are grown. And Krister wants to grow more.
“I want the roof to become a big, flourishing garden where we can show guests around before dinner and show them our bees, herbs, flowers and other things that will make up part of the meal later on. Maybe a tour with aperitifs.”
- All honey bees are eusocial (breeding is taken care of by just one or a few individuals in a colony), colony-forming insects with a system of three castes: queens, drones and workers.
- The honey bee has been around for almost 50 million years (compared with around 50,000 years for mankind).
- A colony of bees can consist of 60-80,000 individuals.
- Bees have to fly the equivalent of two times around the earth to gather enough nectar for half a kilo of honey.
Gothia Towers is part of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre
The honey project is part of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Group’s sustainability work, and is financed in a unique way. Since 2013, the emissions from all staff business travel by air has been offset. This money is used directly for beekeeping.
“We’ve chosen to compensate for our CO2 emissions according to the recommended level,” explains Petra Löfås, Sustainability Manager at Gothia Towers.
“But instead of using this money for external environmental projects, we’re running our own project. An added bonus is the fact that our employees can see an immediate effect of carbon compensation.”