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In Denmark, a beekeeping program is not only beneficial to the environment but a good way for refugee workers to settle in to a new culture.

Jennifer Hattam writes at Take Part about bees atop Copenhagen’s convention center that pollinate crops, produce honey, provide employment, and help flavor a local beer.

“The honey and the beer are the fruits of the innovative project Bybi, named after the Danish word for ‘city bee.’ Its mission: to use urban beekeeping to create a greener Copenhagen, connect residents with the city around them, and bring together and employ people from diverse backgrounds, including refugees and the formerly homeless.

“Syrian beekeeper Aref Haboo is among Bybi’s small staff. He kept dozens of hives back in his home village while also working as a civil servant and agricultural consultant. Like millions of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war, Haboo made the treacherous journey to Europe, part of it smuggled in the cargo hold of a truck, leaving behind his wife and three children to find a safer place for them all to live. A year ago, he was able to reunite his family in Denmark. …

“Haboo recently helped teach a season-long apiculture course to a mixed group of around 20 Syrians, Africans, and Europeans, who produced 450 kilograms of honey from hives in a Copenhagen park. Graduates who want to continue working with bees will receive support from Bybi, and proceeds from the sale of the first course’s honey will help fund training sessions.

“ ‘A lot of our residents have difficulties getting into the Danish labor market, whether because of language issues, skills gaps, or health problems. Working with Bybi is good for them in terms of getting out to meet people and doing something constructive, something they can be proud of,’ says Simon Christopher Hansen, cultural coordinator for the Copenhagen public housing association 3B. …

“With relatively high rates of winter mortality among honeybees in Denmark, Bybi’s urban hives also help ensure that bee populations stay healthy — along with the green environment they nurture and depend on.

“In a way, [social entrepreneur Oliver Maxwell, who founded Bybi in 2010] sees the hive as a model for Bybi and for humanity. ‘We’re looking at ways we can work together that protect our communities and enrich our environment,’ he says. ‘That’s what bees do: They create bigger apples, richer strawberries; they help everything thrive.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Bybi
Beekeeping in Copenhagen helps refugees and the environment.

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