Oct 26, 2023VISION & IDEA
How are the DENSO Headquarters’ honeybees doing recently?
- An interview on a new project with the community
Do you know that there are beehives on the roof of DENSO Headquarters?
DENSO has promoted the Bee Project since 2015. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report 2011, honeybees "pollinate more than 70 of the 100 crop species that make up 90% of the world's food supply".
The Bee Project is intended for participants to feel any changes in the surrounding environment through raising such honeybees that are essential to our daily lives. The Project involves an activity to educate participants through their experience of beekeeping to better understand greening and to revitalize the community.
As eight years have passed since the launch of the Project, the number of bee colonies has increased from four to six. The total number of bees is now as high as 200 thousand. The Project has also expanded as the bee colonies have grown. We are now involved in not only beekeeping but also collaboration with local shopping malls and environmental education for local elementary school children.
The Project is currently led by Shigeo Hasegawa from the General Administration Division. He originally "had no idea" about beekeeping but has repeatedly learned and practiced very well.
This time I visited Hasegawa to hear how the Bee Project is these days, what he has noticed through the Project, and how the Project will be.
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Moved by how diligent the bees were - Learned bee ecology from scratch in those days
Hasegawa started to be involved in the Bee Project in fiscal 2021. Since fiscal 2022, he has been engaged in the Project on a full-scale basis.
He said, “At first I had no idea at all about whether they were fine or ill”
With the help of professional beekeepers and volunteers who had been involved in the Project since its establishment, he gradually learned everything about honeybees. Sometimes he went out to visit honey shops nearby to ask them to let him see their apiary.
Hasegawa told me that, as he had deepened his understanding of bee ecology and beekeeping, he had come to have more instances at which he was moved by how diligent the bees were.
Hasegawa:"Worker bees travel between the hive and nectar sources within a 2 km radius several tens of times a day during the last ten days of their just 30-day life, amounting to several hundreds of trips throughout their whole life. They fly with their tiny body to busily collect nectar and pollen.
Furthermore, they cooperate with each other to send wind to the nectar with their wings to raise the sugar content of the nectar. When the sugar content reaches around 80 degrees, they produce beeswax to cover the nectar. They work together to carry out each of these fixed steps. I'm always moved by how hard they are working."
The coverage included another interview with Hitomi Ezaka, who has been a beekeeping volunteer for five years, to hear what she finds rewarding. The volunteer members usually participate in the activity during part of their lunch break. That day, Ezaka took part in the activity through the volunteer leave program of DENSO.
Ezaka:"I joined the beekeeping volunteering because originally I loved mountains and nature and was interested in environmental issues and Monozukuri. A honeybee can produce only one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Being engaged in the beekeeping process from bee raising through honey collection, I have realized the importance of food, feeling that we should not waste even a single drop of honey. Moreover, when I keep watching honeybees endlessly working, I feel as if they are always encouraging me, saying "Follow your heart!"
A new relationship with the community brought by honeybees
Fortunately, the Bee Project has continued with the cooperation of volunteers. We have put more effort into community activities since fiscal 2021.
DENSO originally participated in the Flower and Butterfly Patrol activity, which plants flowers, cleans up streets, and prevents crime, at the shopping mall in front of the Kariya Station, Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, where DENSO Headquarters is located.
Talking with people in the shopping mall brought about various ideas. Then, we co-held a cooking competition of dishes using Sustainable Honey collected at DENSO Headquarters. We also opened a Sustainable Honey booth in a Marché event around the Kariya Station. These activities increased our connections with the community.
Through the activity for local elementary school children, DENSO accepted apiary tours. Hasegawa recalls, "I was impressed by how the children were staring at honeybees through the window and how they were taking notes seriously during a briefing or a question-and-answer session".
Hasegawa:"Some children are scared at first. I try to convey with all my strength that honeybees are a creature essential to our environment and life. We may not have opportunities to get closer to bees during our daily lives, so I would be very glad if children "realize that bees are an important creature" after joining the tour.
According to him, in addition to elementary school children, many other local people visit the Headquarters to participate in an apiary tour, including companies that are interested in beekeeping as an SDG activity and students of Meijo University where lectures on Urban Beekeeping and Local Innovation are delivered.
A small behavior modification of each one comes from the rooftop of the headquarters
Saying "I want to continue fostering the Project in collaboration with the community", Hasegawa is trying to drive another movement together with Kariya City. That is to register Sustainable Honey products as return gifts for the hometown tax donation program (known as furusato nozei in Japanese).
Furthermore, DENSO has just launched another effort to establish a new technique to identify a sign of swarming (a phenomenon in which bees make another colony or honeycomb) by applying DENSO technology to urban beekeeping, according to Hasegawa.
Hasegawa:"We would like to develop the apiary as a place like a showroom the community people can visit more freely. We would be very glad if they would find Sustainable Honey there in the community, learn the DENSO activity, and get interested in beekeeping with a question like "How do they raise the bees?”
We are also thinking of helping individual DENSO employees participate in a social contribution activity through the Project. Like honeybees who come together to support the world's food supply, we can also contribute to social changes through accumulated minor efforts of individuals. At first glance, this may seem like an epic story, but I believe it is possible. I would like to support their first step with the Bee Project."
New encounters and relationships were made with the help of honeybees growing up on the rooftop of DENSO Headquarters. They will probably fly out off the rooftop, bringing chances for changes all over the community.
Changing your "Can'ts" into "Cans"
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