Sustainability with Rockfon: Why is Urban Beekeeping Important?

24 May 2022

Bees contribute to biodiversity in urban environments by pollinating and promoting the growth of plants and trees. They also serve as food and shelter for animals of all sizes. For these reasons, we partnered with Bybi (City Bee), a social co-operative organisation, and welcomed 240,000 buzzing bees to our office grounds last year.

Beekeeper holding bee hives with honey

Studies have found that there is a link between bee population decreases and climate change. Some honeybee species can only survive in a certain temperature range. This forces them to go to higher altitudes, which also limits their living areas. It is critical to give bees safe, non-invasive surroundings to enable them to adjust to new environments. Cities can provide better habitats for bees than rural places because trees and vegetation are less likely to be pesticide-treated. Furthermore, there are fewer common honeybee predators. 

Being a beekeeper himself, Nicolas Serval has been a major contributor to the success of the partnership with Bybi. We asked Nicolas a few questions to reflect on the first year of the collaboration. 

How has the year been for the bees?

"Last year was their first with us in the Hedehusene (HED) office. They settled down extremely well, despite the ongoing office renovation work. As bees have no interest in our human activities, they have been minding their own business: bringing nectar, pollen, resin, or water to their colony to ensure its development. 

We have many natural areas in our office’s vicinity, loads of flowers with plenty of nectar and pollen for our guests, as well for all the pollinators out there. For sure the flowers we sowed last summer and the bulbs we planted last Christmas, assisted in increasing the source of supplies for all pollinators. Winter has passed and the bees survived with no issue, despite the late March snow episode! Now they started their spring activities, even stronger than last year!"

At Bybi we are interested in an approach called "regeneration". It's all about how we can activate the potential of us humans to benefit the living systems that we are a part of and that surround us in our daily lives.

Oliver Maxwell

Founder & Director at Bybi (Citybee)

Can you take us on the journey of why Rockfon invested in Bees and what is the benefit from having them? 

"A couple of years ago, along with a few other colleagues with similar interests, we were looking for creative ways to internally raise awareness about sustainability matters. This is something we are heavily committed in Rockfon. Having staff related activities made complete sense. Many ideas came up, and we selected one to bring forward."

 "Being a beekeeper myself and reflecting on the meaningful journey which started when I welcomed home my first bee family, I naturally proposed hosting bees on our company ground. I have heard, already back then, about the work done by Bybi’s team, in assisting organisations such as Rockfon in their urban beekeeping projects. We connected and did put together a program proposal to Rockfon and Rockwool’s managements and got full support from day one!  

Bringing our staff together and connecting them to nature, makes it possible to highlight a variety of issues related to the environment, allows for further usage of our office’s garden areas, and finally, produce our own Rockfon’s ultra-local honey for our staff, our partners, and visitors to enjoy!"

Beekeeper holding bee hives with honey

What do the bees give to the employees of Rockfon? 

"Our colleagues are very interested in the bees. I get a lot of questions during lunch and coffee breaks! Thanks to our biannual workshops, organised around the bees with the assistance of our partner Bybi, these truly do assist our staff to connect, engage directly and understand better honeybees. These events are great occasions to get together as a team, educate ourselves on important issues related to the environment, and become mobilized ambassadors for bees, pollinators, and all insects in general."

Why are bees a good place to start for a greener and more sustainable profile? 

"In addition to the bees being vital to our ecosystems and biodiversity, they are responsible for pollinating one-third of what we eat! Easy then to understand why their global population decline is alarming. Many reasons can be listed to explain this decline (industrial monoculture agriculture, pesticides, loss of habitat...), and this is as well a reality for all insects and pollinators. Honeybees are excellent ambassadors to touch upon these issues with our staff and partners, to become aware of environmental challenges."

Businesses are starting to recognise that everything is connected, and that resilience and health are vital for both the future of our planet and our organisations. We want our projects to raise questions and inspire people when it comes to these approaches.

Oliver Maxwell

Founder & Director at Bybi (Citybee)

Our Sustainability & Public Affairs Team at Rockfon explains why launching this project is a natural fit for Rockfon. 

"Our partnership with Bybi aligns with our ambition of establishing strategic partnerships with organisations that advocate well-being and sustainability. The programme encompasses several points related to sustainability in both the environmental and socioeconomic dimensions. These include creating awareness of our (human) relationship with nature, supporting biodiversity as well as social diversity, and becoming actual co-producers of a natural product.".

Beekeeper holding bee hives with honey

Bybi has beehives with a number of companies and organisations across Denmark. Oliver Maxwell, Director of Bybi, highlights the collaboration: 

“Rockfon is a wonderful example. Not only is the business itself at the front of the sustainability agenda, but the grounds and setting are green and lush. We have four beehives on the site. They are looked after by our beekeeper, Aref, who comes from Syria. This year he is being helped by a new volunteer, Oleksander from Ukraine, who had to leave his bees behind on the outskirts of Kharkiv."

"We have events where we encourage employees from Rockfon to meet the bees, plant flowers, and taste the honey. The honey that the bees gather is used by the company in promotions and activities. There are so many stories that link up around the bees. We don't always know what direction they will take, but part of our approach is to work closely with all of our partners to help the best possible potential to emerge.”