A new urban initiative has got off to a flying start: in June and July, 66 bee colonies comprising over a million bees moved into properties owned by Union Investment. The bees are now resident on the roofs of offices, shops and logistics properties belonging to the Hamburg-based real estate investment manager’s fund portfolio. The first stage of the “Imke” project, which is being implemented in conjunction with the Berlin-based “Stadtbienen” non-profit beekeeping association, involves using 32 rooftops in Germany and one in Austria. The initial portfolio includes the EMPORIO office building in Hamburg, the CityQuartier DomAquarée complex in Berlin, the LAGO shopping centre in Konstanz and the Hyatt Place Frankfurt Airport hotel in Frankfurt am Main. There are plans to install bee colonies on more of Union Investment’s rooftops next year. Professional beekeepers from the local regions who are experienced in ecological beekeeping will care for the bees and look after them all year round. The aim is to boost the bee population and help protect biodiversity.
Real estate industry has a big responsibility
Around 30 per cent of CO2 emissions in Germany are generated in the building sector. The real estate industry thus bears a special responsibility and its actions can have a positive impact on achieving climate targets. Accordingly, there is a long-established team of experts at Union Investment tasked with implementing and evolving the company’s sustainability strategy. Whether acquiring a property or managing a building, the focus is always on identifying further potential for continuously improving Union Investment’s sustainability performance. Initiatives like the “Imke” bee project can also help to support this objective.
Roofs provide living space for bees
Before the bees were transported to their new homes, all 33 properties were checked for suitability through joint inspections by beekeepers and property/facility managers. A prerequisite for setting up a bee-friendly habitat is to find a location that is technically suitable for the bees and sheltered from the wind. Because bees have a flight radius of up to five kilometres, they are happy to be housed high up on rooftops. From June onwards, the beekeepers in the individual regions began to install the bee colonies using two bee boxes per property. The boxes are manufactured in conjunction with the Berliner Werkstätten für Menschen mit Behinderung, an association of workshops for people with disabilities. The use of wood from sustainably managed forests helps the bees to build natural honeycomb. Ecological beekeeping practices also ensure that the bees are able to survive the winter on their own honey; only the surplus is harvested. All the bee colonies will be regularly cared for by local beekeepers.
Green inner cities provide food sources for bees
Compared to rural areas, bees in cities can find a wide variety of food sources throughout the year thanks to the many parks and green spaces in urban areas. In the countryside, by contrast, agricultural monocultures and exposure to pesticides can seriously harm bee populations. The ecological and sustainable concept adopted by the Stadtbienen e.V. beekeeping association is focused on the honey bee and its life in the city. The association is thus playing its part in helping to preserve biodiversity on our planet.
Source : Union Investment Real Estate