A bee’s best friend? City rooftops.

An IKEA team travels to Japan to gain knowledge and inspiration for the upcoming collection, RUMSTID, exploring what the needs of future urban, small space living will be. One part of their journey involves looking at what’s happening to our world, and how our lifestyles are affecting it.

Thriving city bees

A trip to Tokyo to explore the future of urban living means that sleeping in a hotel room the size of a space pod, and discovering the pros and cons of social housing is mandatory. But the journey doesn’t stop there. What would a trip to a large city be without going to a rooftop? Imagine being on a busy street in the area of Ginza in Tokyo, your way up to the top of an 11-story tall building. You receive a funny-looking hat with a net attached to it to cover your face. Why? Because you’re here to experience what it’s like to visit a rooftop for beehives.

“It was highly exciting, and such good energy in the air. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it – bees and cities – two things that most people wouldn’t put together,” Eléa says, an IKEA designer with a great passion for sustainability a part of the team that travelled to Tokyo.

“Since cities are pesticide- and chemical-free, bees are actually thriving there. The pollution does not affect them, so it’s become a safe place for bee-keeping,” Eléa explains. Bees have in recent years been declining in number because of farming practices using pesticides and other chemicals. As a result, beekeepers have been starting up beehives in major cities around the world, on rooftops.

Eléa and the IKEA team visit a rooftop for beehives in Tokyo
Eléa and the IKEA team visit a rooftop for beehives in Tokyo

What’s so special about bees?

When we think of bees we often think of annoying creatures who sting us if we piss them off enough. But the reality is that bees are actually helpful to society. “They pollinate, which means that if you have a small garden or a balcony, your plants will flower and grow more,” she smiles.

I believe it’s about conveying a broader message through design – to bring about more awareness about our environment. Yes, we’re a furniture company, but we’re also people with stories whom care for our planet.

However, Eléa believes that the main reasons for these rooftop beehives is to educate people around biodiversity, and she hopes that this will shine through in the collection as well.

“I believe it’s about conveying a broader message through design – to bring about more awareness about our environment. Yes, we’re a furniture company, but we’re also people with stories whom care for our planet. I think that being able to push through our values, and making people understand these values is key.  So, maybe next time you’re out walking and you see a bee on the ground, you’re not going to step on it,” she says. Quite amazing that you can actually raise bees in a city, and they will produce honey. And really, who doesn’t like honey?