Bees to find home on Minneapolis City Hall’s green roof

Minneapolis City Hall (Wikipedia Commons).

What’s the buzz at Minneapolis City Hall? Honeybees.

Mayor R.T. Rybak and the chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Charlie Vig, will show off City Hall’s new beehives today.

No, they won’t be buzzing around the hallways stinging the parking enforcement officers, they’ll be on City Hall’s green roof. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community donated the bees from its apiaries, according to a city news release. The hives are expected to grow 50,000 bees.

The donation comes as we’ve been hearing about the declining honeybee population. Researchers are trying to figure out what’s happening, but loss of habitat, pesticides, diseases and parasites could all be factors.

We media members are invited to put on beekeeping gear to get an up-close and personal look at the bees. I’ll leave that to my TV and photographer colleagues.

City Hall’s courtyard roof, which isn’t visible except from inside the building, has had a green roof since 2008. According to a 2008 Star Tribune article, the project cost $460,000, an expense split between city and county taxpayers. Officials say the roof will last 40 years and provides benefits including insulation, reduced stormwater runoff and reduced heat buildup in the courtyard.

UPDATE: The city of Minneapolis is providing a few more details about the honeybees.  The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has more than 4.8 million honeybees in 120 hives in six apiaries, according to a news release. More from the release:

The beehive installation promotes awareness of urban ecosystems and furthers City goals including locally grown food available and chosen; and livable communities, healthy lives. It is also intended to serve as an example of urban and rooftop beekeeping since the City recently relaxed its beekeeping rules for rooftop hives.

The bees’ foraging distance is about 28 square miles; from this location that includes ample resources for a flourishing hive such as areas around Lake of the Isles; parts of Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake; about six miles of Mississippi shoreline; extensive parkland including Loring Park; and portions of the University of Minnesota. Honeybees are not aggressive; furthermore, their presence on rooftops is a safe distance from human traffic.