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Honey Bee Life

Hiromichi Kobayashi

In the midst of the office district of Tokyo, there are a large amount of honey bees living. In one corner of “Ginza”, which is known as the biggest art gallery area in Tokyo, nest boxes are set up on the roof-top of a building for more than 150,000 bees, and from spring to autumn honey collected by those active bees is being harvested. The center of Ginza is known as 'a concrete jungle' where a forest of inorganic office buildings and commercial buildings stands. We are inclined to doubt if it is at all possible to raise bees and harvest honey in such a place. To start with, when we walk and look around numerous galleries to see if natural flowers are blooming from which honey can be collected, there is nothing but grey walls and such constructions as various metal boards, and it is difficult to feel any sense of natural creatures. It is said that honey bees' radius of activity is 2 km, and so, since Ginza is located to the east of the central part of Tokyo, in the surroundings, there are rich green park areas such as Hama Detached Palace to the south, Hibiya park to the west, and Sumida-river park to the east. There is also a vast green area in the Emperor's Palace to the north. Flowers of trees there rather than flowers of grass have become attractive feeding ground for bees. Even a person like me who was born and raised in Tokyo can actually feel in Ginza, through the rich harvest of honey in the nest boxes, the existence of a natural environment that we tend to forget about, where the honey bees' soaring and honey-collecting are continuing without people noticing. From the time when Tokyo was called “Yedo”, the distribution and transportation network of beautiful rivers and canals were functioning, but in recent years they have disappeared one by one either underground, or converted to roads in the interests of city development. We tend to think of the inorganic transportation network of railroads and automobiles as inevitable functions of a city. However, in parallel, the ecological network that links the environment and the lives unfolded by those extremely minute honey bees' micro-activities afford us a new image of Tokyo landscape. Once those large army of crows that fed noisily on trash in the early mornings in Ginza and Shinjuku presented a negative image of the city environment, but the approach of maintaining the environment or recreation of nature by converting roof tops to green areas, and by securing the honey bees' radius of activities, becomes a positive action. In these several years, many honeybees were raised and the honey produced has provided ingredients for cakes and cocktails served in Ginza, and has thus brought joy to the hearts of many visitors there. Such activities are now spreading from Ginza to such suburbs as Jiyugaoka in Setagaya Ward as well as Tama Center in Tama city. In Tama city the places where the honeybee nest boxes are set up is on the roof-top of the art museum where I work. Soon the raising of honeybees on the roof-tops of art museums will even be become an art ...

Kobayashi, Hiromichi/Curator

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