What’s that buzz? Lawmakers busy as beekeepers!

The roof of the Saeima building in Old Town has been proposed as a beekeeping site by member of parliament Lolita Čigāne (Unity), who has requested the Presidium to support the placing of two to three hives there next month, reported Latvian Radio (LR) Monday.

“Latvia is often held up as one of the greenest and nature-friendly countries not just in Europe but around the world,” she wrote in her letter to the Presidium, which has yet to rule on the idea.

She certainly has the support of fellow MP Armands Krauze (Greens/Farmers), who happens to be the board chairman of Latvia’s Beekeepers’ Society. He told LR that bees have thrived on the roofs of government buildings in Copenhagen and Brussels, and there have been other hives kept in the very center of Riga previously. Ten years ago there were thriving hives on Valdemara street by the Art Museum and last year they were on the famous Agriculture Ministry’s high-rise building in the riverside Citadele district next to Old Town.

The plan for the Saeima roof includes some high-tech gadgetry like special weight-measuring devices and online video surveillance. The Beekeepers’ Society chief and parliamentarian said the bees can productively fly a distance of two to four kilometers to satisfy their pollen-seeking honey-making instincts.

Krauze and his organization promise to ensure maintenance of the hives so that legislators don’t have to worry about taking care of the bees themselves, which can sometimes sting even more than a parliamentarian’s constituent or a probing reporter might. Last year’s hive on the Agriculture Ministry’s roof produced 60 kilograms of honey, a pretty good catch, say experts. The MP and beekeeping community head warns however that one shouldn’t keep too large a concentration of hives in an urban environment.

On her part, state Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) expert Adrija Sietiņsone reminded that the Civil Law proscribes the conditions that must be ensured for safe beekeeping, which the Saeima roof presumably would be in observance of. Still, the PVD spokesperson pointed out that the food base for the bees and the quality of the honey in the city might not be the same as in the countryside.

The hives could be placed already on April 19, with quality control tastings and testings ready perhaps by the beginning of June. Saeima would keep the honey on its own premises as its own property. Krauze claimed its quality would be no different from any other honey gathered out of town, as it would be tested for containing any heavy metals from automobile emission-produced smog.

Environmental Protection Club (VAK) leader Arvīds Ulme was skeptical of the parliamentary beekeeping project proposal, pointing out that heavy metals aren’t the only environmental hazard potentially threatening an urban honey harvest such as the Saeima might have on its hands.

But Čigāne tweeted triumphantly Monday “the bees shall be!”, prompting responses from none less than Wall Street Journal reporter Juris Kaža, who seemed intrigued enough to suggest a possible feature story in his publication,

and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, who tweeted a reminder from Winnie the Pooh: “You never can tell with bees…”

 

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