Bee Bistro in Downtown Rotterdam

We have to support the bees, because these are hard times for them. Whatever the reasons are, it’s a fact that their numbers are decreasing; some species are threatened with extinction or are already extinct.

And that’s not only sad for the bees, it has the potential to turn out pretty sad for ourselves too, since many crops need bees for pollination.


Fortunately, in recent times bees can count on a lot of support. Bee hotels are popping up everywhere: structures with a lot of wood, reeds and other natural materials in which the little creatures can make their homes.

Bee hotel, spelling the word HOTEL, near Spijkernisser bridge in Hoogvliet, The Netherlands
Bee support in Hoogvliet


This year, Dutch nature conservation society Natuurmonumenten distributed free packages with seeds of wild flowers, harvested last year on their own flower field. With the slogan make way for wild flowers, everyone was encouraged to be kind to the bees by providing them with a piece of pocket nature in gardens or on balconies.

Brochure with wildflowers coming with a bag with seeds sent by Dutch nature conservation organisation Natuurmonumenten
Which flowers to expect


As an example of corporate social responsibility, 3Develop is happy to join the initiative with its own bee bistro. So at the end of April I spread the seeds over the big and small pots on my balcony, ten stories high in the Lijnbaan district in downtown Rotterdam.

The flowers did not grow very quickly, despite the daily manual irrigation. Perhaps the relatively cold spring played a role there. But after a few warm days, more and more flowers appeared in the second half of June.

Overview of the bee restaurant, or the pots with wildflowers on a balcony of a flat in downtown Rotterdam, Holland
Bee support on the balcony


It was interesting to see that rapeseed and phacelia also showed up, two species that were not mentioned in the Natuurmonumenten brochure. Of the species that were to be expected, I spotted mallows, camomile, cornflowers and quite a few poppies. A true banquet for the average bee.

Close-up of a fiery red poppy against a predominantly green background
One of many poppies


The question was of course: will the bees find their bistro, 25 meters above street level in the rather stony Rotterdam city center? Mosquitoes, flies and bugs reach my apartment effortlessly, but that is no guarantee.

Fortunately I was able to welcome the first customer soon. And if you save one bee, you save the world. That was only the beginning because soon this infuencer was joined by its followers.

Close-up of a bee hovering near a purple phacelia flower on a balcony in Rotterdam, Holland
The first customer


So that’s how easy it is, contributing to biodiversity. And as an added bonus, one has a colorful balcony for weeks and weeks.

When the summer is over I will harvest and dry the seeds. With a bit of luck, the bistro will get a few pop-up franchises next year around the neighbourhood.

Update: June 18, 2020

As planned, I harvested the flower seeds, dried them and kept them in a jar all winter. In early May they went into the ground for the new round. Strikingly enough, it is mainly the phacelia that emerged, but it immediately does very well and is very popular with the customers of the brasserie.

A bee harvesting nectar from a phacelia flower on an urban balcony
Phacelia and the bee

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