Generating a buzz for sustainable cities

Edited on 21/05/2024

A swarm of bees, some of them blurred. Source: Damien Tupinier.

A swarm of bees, some of them blurred. Source: Damien Tupinier.

For World Bee Day on 20 May, find out how Ljubljana has conquered Europe with its good practice of urban beekeeping.

Open your window and listen. Above the roar of the traffic and the hubbub of the city, can you hear the gentle buzzing of bees? Not a sound traditionally associated with the cityscape, the hum of these little pollinators is in fact a telling signal for a healthy city. Three-quarters of the world’s food crops depend at least partly on bees and other pollinators, but they are increasingly under threat from human activities, particularly in urban settings. The City of Ljubljana and its innovative ‘Bee Path’ stands out as a beacon of success, demonstrating the transformative power of bee-friendly urban environments. This initiative not only benefits local ecosystems but also fosters community engagement and sustainable development.

Ljubljana's Bee Path, launched in 2015, transformed the Slovenian capital’s traditional beekeeping culture into a comprehensive approach to sustainability by creating an educational, cultural and health-promoting path throughout the city. Interconnected green spaces rich in diverse flora provide food and shelter for pollinators, while involving businesses, NGOs, the tourist board and, of course, beekeepers created a holistic community of stakeholders.

The success of Ljubljana's Bee Path was recognised by URBACT in 2017, winning a ‘Good Practice’ label and inspiring other European cities to adopt similar initiatives. One such example is Amarante in Portugal, where local authorities have implemented bee-friendly practices in public parks and green areas. By integrating beehives into urban landscapes, Amarante not only supports pollinator populations but also developed a range of products and services in education, tourism and innovation sectors. A particular challenge they had to overcome was linked to the species of bee present in Amarante – a more aggressive pollinator than the meek and peaceful Carniolan bee (Melifera Carnica) found in Slovenia. 


Bansko, a picturesque town nestled in the Bulgarian mountains, has also embraced urban beekeeping as part of its sustainability efforts. Here, the municipality had to overcome the very strict regulations around beekeeping in urban areas, and now implement an educational programme to introduce bees to the younger generations. 


These examples highlight the transferability of good practices in urban beekeeping across diverse European contexts. However, successful implementation requires more than just good intentions. Cities looking to follow suit can benefit from a range of tools and guidelines developed through the BeePath Network supported by the URBACT programme.

URBACT's resources offer practical insights into becoming a ‘Bee Path City’, covering topics such as biodiversity, education, and community engagement. By leveraging these resources, cities can overcome common challenges and maximise the positive impact of their bee-friendly initiatives.

Furthermore, collaboration and knowledge exchange among cities are essential for driving collective action on urban beekeeping. Platforms like URBACT provide opportunities for city representatives to share experiences, learn from each other's successes and failures, and co-create innovative solutions tailored to their local contexts.

As we celebrate World Bee Day, let us recognise the vital role of urban beekeeping in building more sustainable and resilient cities. By fostering biodiversity, promoting community engagement, and mitigating environmental threats, urban beekeeping not only benefits bees but also enriches the lives of urban dwellers and future generations. Through collaborative efforts and a commitment to action, cities can pave the way towards a brighter, bee-friendly future. Bee a part of the movement!


Do you have a good practice that promotes your city’s biodiversity? 


Apply for an URBACT Good Practice label by 30 June 2024.






Submitted by URBACT on 21/05/2024