Milan promotes urban bees

International artists and designers present new hives.

In gardens and public spaces in the centre of Milan, the project Urban Hives will start this week with an exhibition of drawings and proposals for new forms of bee hives by international artists and designers.

Following the exhibits in Porta Garibaldi station, local craftsmen will produce and install urban hives in locations across the city (see locations below).

The exhibit of the designs opens on Tuesday evening, 14 April at 18.00. On Wednesday at 17.00, the agriculture faculty of the University of Milan will host a workshop for kids and families on pollination and biodiversity, including tastings of different organic honeys. On Thursday at 17.00 in the Spazio Milano green point at Porta Venezia, a screening of videos on the return of bees to the urban environment will be followed by free distribution of seeds for flowers suitable for making honey.

Throughout the first months of Expo, art installations and events centred on bees and honey as a natural and complete food will take place around the city.

In tune with the slogan of Expo – Feeding the planet, energy for life – the programme pays homage to the importance of bees and honey in the environment, quoting Albert Einstein: “If bees disappeared, humankind would have three years of life left.”

Bees are biological indicators of the quality of the environment and play a vital role for the continuity of food resources of vegetable origin on our planet. They carry out a task – pollination – which allows some 70 per cent of trees and plants to produce their fruit. But their role is not limited to the “delivery” of pollen; what they are best known for is the production of honey, an important whole food already known in ancient times, when it was the only food source to contain sugar.

 honeybee pollination

The life and work of the honey bee was the inspiration for the British pavilion at Expo.

The adoption of urban hives is becoming common in many cities: Paris, Berlin, London, NYC, Sydney, and preliminary results suggest urban bees are more productive, say the organisers of the project.


The innovative programme Green Island, Urban Hives was awarded first prize in the “Tavola Periodica” contest of projects to be funded during Expo. It was launched by aMAZElab, a non-profit cultural lab working for the diffusion of contemporary cultures.

Locations for the urban hives:

In the gardens of the Conservatory and of Spazio Lombardini22 at Porta Genova, at the Rotonda della Besana near Porta Romana, in the Montanelli garden of the Museum of Natural History on Corso Venezia, the Giardino del Terraggio near Sant’Ambrogio, the FAI gardens in Via Mozart, the Triennale gardens in Via Alemagna, and at the Salone Satellite near the Rho fairground hosting Expo 2015.