Romans have not been enjoying Italy’s coronavirus quarantine, in fact they find it a total buzz kill. Not so the Roman bees. Their population is expanding and so is the list of flora they are pollinating.
The lucky bees in their beehives on top of the special forestry unit of Italy’s carabinieri building have been thriving, while Roman residents just recently came out of a two-month lockdown.
Members of the carabinieri, the military policy that acts as a special force to protect the environment and forests, have been keeping track of 150,000 bees in three hives on the roof for three years.
In early March 2020, almost overnight, traffic, pollution and noise stopped in the sprawling city of Rome due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The nationwide quarantine presented a rare opportunity for bee research.
Watch the carabinieri and their bee operation right on their Roman rooftop in this 4:28-minute video:
How did these events impact the bees?
They have been happy and healthy, according to Raffaele Cirone, president of the Italian Apiculture Federation. There are more of them, and the nutrition they are getting seems better.
He also said the quality of honey has visibly improved. In fact, tests indicate that bees have been sampling 150 diverse flowers in the area whereas prior to lockdown it was closer to 100 varieties.
This may be due to the fact that considerably less air pollution means the bees have been able to smell the flowers they are attracted to as far away as 2 kilometers, which is double the normal distance.
There are approximately 1,000 to 2,000 hives in Rome, and Roman bees appear to be considerably happier than their bee-buddies in the countryside where toxic chemicals are used in agriculture.
A few carabinieri beekeepers recently showed off some of their bees and the honey and wax-encrusted frames (see video). Some of them were not crazy about insects initially, but the bees have grown on them.
Lieutenant Colonel Nicola Giordano of the forestry and environment unit command is managing the bee-studying project. There are about 30 groups in Rome that are sharing information about their bees from the 2-month quarantine period.
While some people may think it strange that the carabinieri is paying attention to these tiny insects, Giordano says the bee project fits right in with their purpose, which is the environment. To ignore bee pollinators would be to not pay attention to biological complexity that is fundamental to planet earth.
Even though making honey is not the point of their involvement, the hives produce about 30 kilograms of honey.
This is just another inspiring example of how fast earth has rejuvenated from human pollution and behaviors that are detrimental to our planet and the other creatures on it.