Have you heard about queen bees Beyonce and Heidi Klum that live on top of KPMG’s Canary Wharf tower?
The professional services firm has kept two hives on top of its headquarters since 2013 offering workers an insight into how incredibly important these animals are for our environment
Of course the pop star and model aren’t really stuck on top of the professional services firm’s headquarters in east London. Those are just the names staff have given the queen bees.
KPMG started its bee obsession back in summer 2014 when it set up the hives on its roof – sheltered by a windbreaker to make sure the insects are ok to fly as they don’t like too much breeze.
The employees’ love for their 40,000-strong colony of furry flyers has grown so much over the years that there is now a huge waiting list to visit them and in-house awards have even been named in their honour.
The firm has also made soap with the wax, makes cakes from the honey and uses it in products sold in their restaurant Fourteen.
Read more: Plateau has given honey a haute cuisine makeover with its Honey Gourmand menu
KPMG’s environment assistant Sam McCarthy said: “For us keeping the bees is a tangible link to the environment and aids us in explaining about climate change.
“Staff go up every month and the bee keeper opens up the hive and explains what happens in there.”
Naomi Sayers, who works in internal communications at KPMG, said: “I was a little apprehensive at first as I’m quite wary of winged things and was stung by a wasp when I was younger.
“But once I got suited up into my bee-keeping kit I was raring to go.
“Bees are really fascinating creatures and while I was on the roof I got to see the queen (a taller, skinnier version of the other bees) as well as seeing babies being born and the infamous dance the bees do when they’ve found a good source of food.
“They are amazing creatures and my new favourite animal. The fact that we have them on our roof is brilliant – you wouldn’t think Canary Wharf would be the sort of environment where bees could thrive but ours are certainly doing well.”
The company set up the hives with the help of Urban Bees, an organisation that is trying to get across quite how important the insects are to the world around us and to counter the threats posed by global warming, extensive farming and the use of pesticides and the loss of flower-rich habitats.
Read more: How to help our dwindling bee population in the UK
With about a third of the world’s food production being reliant on a healthy bee population, the problem is not insignificant.
Urban Bees’ Alison Benjamin said: “Keeping bees is a great way to get people thinking about the environment and our role in it.
“It’s also a good message within a work team as it shows the bees all getting things done together – it shows we are all dependant on each other."
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Alison said it is not just honeybees that are under threat. She said among the more than 250 species in the UK bumblebees and solitary bees are just as vital to our ecosystem.
Alison said the best thing people could do to help these species was to plant more flowers and bushes that they like and to create shelters for solitary bees.
She said: “You can easily make a bee hotel – that’s with sticks of bamboo that you can put together.
“These are good for solitary bees who like to live alone but prefer to live next to each other, sort of like us living in flats.”