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Celebrating World Bee Day

The Bee Project: How we went from ‘sustainable eyewear design’ to ‘sustainable beekeeping’, practically overnight!


Accord­ing to a 2018 Unit­ed Nations report, up to 68% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion will live in urban areas by 2050, which is up from 55 per­cent at present. What was once green is now grey; our high ris­es grow taller, our offices expand and our free­ways stretch out far­ther between cities. Clean air has been pol­lut­ed and micro­scop­ic plas­tics lit­ter our oceans. And as our lives have con­tin­ued to tran­scend fur­ther into the dig­i­tal realm, our con­nec­tion to the nat­ur­al world has become estranged. 

Grow­ing up in the con­crete jun­gle our abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize what is nor­mal for the envi­ron­ment and what isn’t, has dwin­dled. It has become increas­ing­ly clear that the only way to ensure the sur­vival of our plan­et and all that inhab­its it is to live sus­tain­ably and har­mo­nious­ly, with nature. And so, here at neubau eye­wear, we have decid­ed to take a first step in the right direction. 

The hum­ble Hon­ey Bee has, in recent years, been dis­ap­pear­ing at alarm­ing rates (see more about colony col­lapse dis­or­der here) caus­ing a mas­sive decline in food pro­duc­tion, affect­ing plant growth world­wide. With­out the bees, we could lose all of the plants that bees pol­li­nate, all of the ani­mals which eat those plants and so on up the food chain. Basi­cal­ly, with­out them, the world as we know it collapses. 

With this in mind, more and more peo­ple have decid­ed to start their own back­yard bee hives; and we’ve decid­ed to fol­low cue! Quite recent­ly, the team behind our Ger­man branch adapt­ed their rooftop to house four bee hives with hopes to start a thriv­ing bee colony and make some fresh hon­ey in the process.

We spoke with one of the mem­bers of our Ger­man team, Hans Peter, Head of Inter­nal Sales, on why they felt com­pelled to offer their space to these hon­ey lov­ing creatures: 

How did you dis­cov­er your love for bees? What makes them spe­cial to you? I grew up in the coun­try­side, where I had my own home-grown fruit and veg­eta­bles. For many years now, I have been a mem­ber of the Nature and Bio­di­ver­si­ty Con­ser­va­tion Union in Ger­many (NABU). Through this, I heard about a spe­cial bee project in Ham­burg which roused my inter­est and wish to keep my own bee hives. Tak­ing care of the bees helps me to improve my work-life bal­ance and to strength­en my men­tal health.

How has bring­ing bees into – well on top of – your office improved your work as a team? How does it relate to your work with neubau? The hon­ey bee project allows us to mix-up our dai­ly rou­tine and con­nect with oth­ers in dif­fer­ent depart­ments. Get­ting to know each oth­er beyond work­ing togeth­er in our dai­ly busi­ness is def­i­nite­ly a ben­e­fit for pro­fes­sion­al coop­er­a­tion since the col­lab­o­ra­tive work rein­forces the com­mu­ni­ty spir­it. The project rais­es aware­ness for both the impor­tance of the hon­ey bees and sus­tain­abil­i­ty. It helps us to gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the core as well as the brand val­ues of neubau.

What are the biggest moments of joy and what are the biggest chal­lenges for being a beekeeper?

— The project brings me hap­pi­ness on all lev­els – from open­ing the hives to enjoy­ing our own-pro­duced hon­ey. I am a pas­sion­ate bee keep­er because it’s fan­tas­tic to see what moth­er nature has cre­at­ed and to see how the hon­ey bees are nav­i­gat­ed by their evo­lu­tion­ary instincts. At the moment, cli­mate change is the biggest chal­lenge we are facing.

This has not been our first time work­ing with bees; in the past we have part­nered with the Hon­ey Bee Con­ser­van­cy to help in the fight against their extinc­tion but up until now, we had not had the chance to observe bees so close­ly. In fact, over the past year we were actu­al­ly able to pro­duce more than 100 litres of hon­ey– or at least the bees did, the hon­ey has been mak­ing its way to our cus­tomers in the form of a gift over this time. 

Hans Peter has showed us that work­ing with these insects can be an uplift­ing and empow­er­ing expe­ri­ence; not only are we sup­port­ing a sus­tain­able future but we are also learn­ing more about the many crea­tures that would move through our shared envi­ron­ment, should we let them. Hans Peter sug­gests that we might try to learn from bees; 

— Every deci­sion [made by the bees] is made on a col­lec­tive basis. Hence, the bees serve as a role mod­el, espe­cial­ly for our dai­ly work­ing business.”

It is clear, that we must work togeth­er if we are to live togeth­er; some­thing these bees have known for a long time…

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20 May 2019 · neubau eyewear