Urban beekeeping project hopes to get Dublin buzzing

Bí project will include beekeeping training for unemployed in northwest inner city

Dublin city will be buzzing in the New Year, if a new urban beekeeping plan takes off. The Bí project involves setting up bait hives around the northwest inner city to attract bees.

A beekeeping centre will be developed and will provide training in the skill, according to project founder, urban ecologist Kaethe Burt-O'Dea. "We want to make training totally free to people who can't afford a beekeeping course. We hope to train about 30 in the first year," she said. She is also looking at creating a limited edition bee beer.

“We want to create bee champions around the northwest inner city who will take ownership of this project,” she said. A number of organisations have expressed an interest in getting involved in beekeeping.

Bí is the first of several ecological projects for the not-for-profit Lifeline initiative, aimed at reinvigorating the northwest inner city.


Ms Burt-O’Dea received funding from the Guinness Projects Award last year and is looking for sponsorship to help provide the training. She also plans a crowdfunding scheme next year.

She hopes 2015 will be the year of the bee. “We can learn a lot from bees. They are very sophisticated in how they make decisions and also how they set up their homes. Bees seem to have solved a lot of the problems that we struggle with in cities.”

“They thrive in cities and produce about twice as much honey. They also survive the weather about one-third better than they do in the countryside because of the heat and shelter available to them in cities.”

The projects will be based in 6 Rosemount Terrace, an old joinery building on Arbour Hill, while schools, not-for-profit groups and other interested people will get involved in placing bait hives around the northwest inner city.

“A lot of people have come to me already, offering roof space,” she said. And if the bees don’t come? “We’ll certainly get enough bees to start the project. I don’t think that will be a problem,” she said.

Ms Burt-O’Dea has also launched a range of Bí soap and skin products made in Stoneybatter from waste oils and foraged materials to help raise funds. Local beekeepers are supplying the pollen and honey for those products. “There are quite a few people who beekeep in the general vicinity of the city, certainly dozens,” she said.

“This is about more than beekeeping. It’s about creating employment in this area.”

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times