On February 27th, we invited the bee-stakeholders of Kyoto to the event 38 Café (Mitsubachi Café) “Let’s make a bee-friendly Kyoto City”. Bee-stakeholders are not just beekeepers taking directly care of honeybees, but include all the people affected directly or indirectly by the existence of bees. That can be the farmer needing pollination, or the bird lover interested in a healthy habitat, the city officer called-up regularly by citizens to remove beehives or the educator teaching about food or the environment. The goal of the workshop was to have this diverse group of actors exchange over possible bee-supporting policies and activities in Kyoto and ideally building a more coherent and inclusive network.
Internationally the concern for the loss of honeybees, pollinators, and lately insects in general has grown and led to different kinds of policies. While, for example, the former US president Obama passed in 2015 the “National Strategy to Promote the Healthy Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”, Amsterdam (Earthwise; BeeCareAmsterdam) as well as many other cities reacted with local policies to support bees in their cities. But there are also civil society activities like the Project ‘For the Love of Bees’ in Auckland/New Zealand whose organizer Sarah Smuts-Kennedy will visit us in May/June. Japan’s Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute had been involved in formulating 10 policies to counter the decline of pollinators nationally and internationally (Dicks et. al. 2016).
RIHN’s Mitsubachi Team conducted fieldworks across Japan and also in Taiwan, and collected international and national examples of beekeeping-activities and –policies. And in regard to the results of the surveys we conducted with beekeepers and with citizens of Kyoto, both presented at the 23rd RIHN’s Chiiki Renkei Seminar and many other seminars and events, we chose 6 best practice cases with potential to be done also in Kyoto:
- 1. awareness raising/education
- 2. pesticide free zones
- 3. bee highways
- 4. bee hotline
- 5. pollinator seed mix
- 6. matching beekeepers and available land
To assist the communication among the diverse bee-stakeholders we organized a World Café style workshop. With a team of 6 facilitators coming from the FEAST project, the Open Team Science project and RHIN in general, as well as graphic recorder Aya Taniguchi, we divided the 38 participants among six tables, with each table representing one best practice. After introducing each topic, we had 3 rounds of discussions around ‘what are the obstacles to introduce this best practice in Kyoto?’, ‘how can the obstacles be resolved?’, and ‘who could resolve the obstacles/be the driver of this activity?’. Like bees pollinating flowers, the participants changed the tables in each round and at the end of the meeting, we summarized the outcome in short presentations and the graphic recorder Ms. Aya Taniguchi visualized that in a poster.
This workshop yielded several notable results related to the six best practices.
1) Education: Through three rounds of discussion around three topics, it became clear that an image of bees being “scary” still preceded anything else in Japan. So, a lack of accurate and sufficient knowledge about honeybees as well as a low level of awareness about pollinators in general pose a challenging impediment to introduce any of these best practices. Thereby a need to educate the general public about the important role of honeybees, their “swarming” behavior, but also on the effects of agrochemicals. One of the unique proposals from the participants was to use a cartoon such as Draemon to booster the positive image of bees, let alone school education, as it should be more efficient to show the visualized case examples of beekeeping.
2) Collaboration between the public administration and citizens: The participants suggested specifically in terms of greening, that the local governments should engage more actively in collaborations between the administration and citizens. For example, many vacant lands in Kyoto could be tapped into by the administration, the street plants and management of public parks could be pruned with a certain technique to prevent pests, or ‘no pesticide zones’ could be set up starting from public land. Furthermore, sponsored flowerbeds, the creation of a seed mix with Kyoto’s native plants for people to plant, and more engagement of hobby gardeners were suggested.
3) Funding and manpower: These action plans come with the need for funding and manpower. Strategies to make best use of crowd-funding and “Furusato Nouzei” (benefit-your-locality tax scheme), tie-up with business enterprises, and creating the environment and structure in which the general public can feel comfortable and easy to take part would be necessary.
For the next step we are considering to broaden our research to the neighboring Taiwan and South Korea which also have the Asian honeybee, as well as deepen our efforts here in Japan in five directions:
-Investigate the potential and relation of urban beekeeping projects with education for sustainability (ESD), corporate social responsibility (CSR), and community development.
-Document and analyze traditional and modern beekeeping practices in rural areas and understand the dynamics of beekeeping with various kinds of organic farming, the ‘mountain economy’ and scenarios of upland futures.
-Employ beehives and bee-products as landscape indicators.
-Conceptualize the urban and rural food web around the Japanese honeybee
-Explore the potentials of pollinator seed mixes
(The original post written partially in Japanese and English. Translated and edited by Yuko K.)