A New York Bee Story

How 60,000 Bees Are Helping Denmark House Achieve Sustainability

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Denmark’s role as a global leader on climate change means not just talking the talk on the Sustainable Development Goals but also walking the walk when it comes to setting examples and taking action. That’s why Denmark is reducing CO2 emissions by 70% by 2030 and achieving it with 72% green electricity. It’s why 72% of all waste in Denmark is recycled and why Copenhagen will be the world’s first carbon neutral capital by 2025. And it’s why Denmark is leading the global sustainability charge with a Green Reboot, ensuring that the post-COVID-19 recovery is, in fact, a green one that brings the planet closer to achieving Agenda 2030.

So, it should come as no surprise that even outside of Denmark the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prioritizing a sustainability strategy in order to leave a greener imprint and render it one of the greenest foreign ministries in the world. At Denmark House in New York, this means a curious new initiative that involves the introduction of 60,000 new environmentally-minded, winged colleagues who can help the Danish outpost reduce its climate footprint while pushing New York City closer to its sustainability goals.

“We’re thrilled to welcome 60,000 bees to the Denmark House terrace as part of our sustainability drive and our broader effort to making New York’s ecosystem greener,” explains Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen, HR & Administration Officer at Denmark House, and lead on the so-called bee project.

“The bees will be living in two large beehives and regularly monitored by expert beekeepers. We’re truly excited about this major step forward in ensuring our footprint in New York is as climate-friendly as possible.”

Denmark in New York caught up with Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen to learn more about the new beehive project and hear how a city like New York can benefit from the pollinating powers that the bees bring to the city’s complex ecosystem.

Denmark in New York: Tell us first about the thinking behind installing bee hives at Denmark House — what prompted such an unusual decision?

Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen: I came across bee hives and their important impact on the bio system while researching climate supportive solutions for our terrace space. After speaking to different companies about the matter it became clear how easy of an installation it would be with a significant beneficial result on New York City’s bio diversity.

How can bees help support and improve the bio system of New York City?

Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen: Bees are a very important asset to the bio system because of their pollinating powers. Pollinators strongly influence ecological relationships, ecosystem conservation and stability, genetic variation in the plant community, floral diversity, specialization and evolution.

In fact, bees thrive very well in urban environments due to a surprisingly diverse flora. They fly up to 5 miles to collect the pollen.

How will the bees be taken care of at Denmark House?

Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen: We have made a maintenance agreement with the company from which we bought the bee hives. They will come and tend to them every 3 to 5 weeks to make sure that the bees are thriving.

The Danish MFA is prioritizing its effort to become one of the greenest foreign ministries in the world.

What will happen to the honey that results from these bees?

Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen: The bee keepers will keep a close eye on the honey production. If there is excess honey they will collect the honey and take it back to their facility. Here they take DNA samples of the honey which they use to determine how well the bees are thriving and they actually also use these samples to analyse the plant diversity, environmental conditions, and pesticide exposure in New York City and they then share this information with research facilities and the city.

They then jar the honey and return it back to Denmark House for us to enjoy.

What’s next in Denmark House’s journey to a more sustainable future?

Zabrina Lindegaard Kjeldsen: A lot. We have an action plan for 2020/2021 with a wide project portfolio. We have established a sustainability group with members from various departments both from Denmark’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Consulate General of Denmark in New York. Since we are such a big organisation that covers many interests, our group can work on a lot of subjects under the sustainability umbrella.

We do recognize that becoming as sustainable as possible is an everlasting journey. Luckily, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made it a strategic priority to become one of the most sustainable ministries in the world, which provides the best framework for us to work within.

Emilie Haaber Lynggaard is the Strategic Communications and Press Intern at Denmark In New York.

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The Official Medium Blog for the Consulate General of Denmark in New York. For all things Danish, #DenmarkInNY.

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