Tag archives for Stockholm

I’ve got bees!

Johan and Franz checking if the bees have a queen. The rain and the bees flying around don’t really appear on this photo, but I can tell you they were everywhere… Photo: Sara Jeswani.

“Congratulations, you’ve got bees!”

It was the beginning of July and I was sitting on a boat, far away from Stockholm, when my mobile phone beeped. I stared at the text message for several minutes. Well, I did sign up for that lottery (handing out a few of the “new” bee societies that are created when you divide big ones during summer) at my local beekeeper association’s course earlier this year. But I never win lotteries, so I reckoned nothing would happen.

I was wrong.

Honey bees are extremely interesting animals. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Reading about the importance of bees and how they are now more and more threatened,I had decided to learn a bit more and joined a beekeeping course in the beginning of this year. I am far from the only one having got this interest lately, and the beekeeping veterans running the course were amazed to see 35 new members coming to the first meeting instead of the normal four to five.

Trying the get the loose honey bees out of the car before driving across the city. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

The thing about bees is that the more you learn about them the more intriguing they get. How on Earth does the bee queen know where to go when it’s time to mate? And how do the bees manage to tell each other where the best nectar is to be found? Why are so many of them dying all of a sudden, does it have to do with pesticides being sprayed on food crops?

I would really like to have a beehive, i thought – in a couple of years.

Who knows if it would ever have happened, if it wasn’t for this lottery. Only question: What do you do with thousands of bees when you live in a flat?

Finally the boxes are placed in the new hive, and after a few minutes the bees start flying in and out, getting to know their new neighbourhood. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

After sending e-mails to everyone I know in the area where I live, I ended up finding a nice new home for them, a local garden association where the members keep bees together. It’s reassuring to have others that will take care of the bees together with me, and last few weeks we started restoring an old hive to give them a new house.

Last week it was finally time to move the bees from their current home in a park north of Stockholm. The rain was pouring down and the bees (approximately 40.000–50.000!) weren’t exactly in their best mood when we put them in the car to cross Stockholm… But now they have a new home, which I hope they will like!

Is city life really that green?

Easy cycling is good, but not the whole story. Photo: Maqroll (CC: by-nc-sa)

Stockholm and other Swedish cities are often being pointed out as green and low emission. According to official figures, the average person in Stockholm emits only 3,75 tons of carbon dioxide per person and year, which is quite a lot less than the average Swede at 5,6 tons.

But earlier this year a joint report from Stockholm Environment Institute and a green think tank called Cogito pointed out a problem with these figures. As so often with statistics, they only describe one part of reality.

These statistics do measure the emissions from all activities taking place within the area of Stockholm. But they don’t count the CO2 emissions that are made to manufacture and transport all the things that the Stockholmers’ total consumption is made up of.

What the report has done is to calculate the total emissions of four Swedish cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Linköping.

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Jane raises the status of Sweden’s forgotten garden fruit

Jane Arrowsmith turns people’s forgotten fruit into gold – or at least delicious food. Photo: Johannes Frandsen.

July isn’t only the most classical holiday month in Sweden, it is also the time of the year when people’s gardens start to explode with fruits and vegetables.

It might sound odd, but for many this seems to be an annual surprise.

When holidays are planned, very few take into account that their own homes will turn into food-producing factories. Others just don’t have the time or energy to take care of harvests from plants and trees that were probably already there when they moved in.

So while Swedish gardens are bursting with tons of apples, pears, plums, currants and gooseberries – a lot of it unfortunately just rots away.

Liquid apple for darker days. Photo: Johannes Frandsen.

When Jane Arrowsmith, who lives in the western part of Stockholm, noticed this, she felt something had to be done.
She started by letting her friends on Facebook know that she could harvest their fruit and give back 20–25 percent of it in the form of jam,  juice and other refined products. The rest of it, Jane and her family eat themselves or sell at local markets.

Soon enough people started to contact Jane themselves. It is hard to know how much fruit Jane takes care of, but she knows that last year more than 300 kilo of apples went to juice-making, and that was just a small part of the harvest.

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Don’t let you brain fall asleep during summer

If you want to leave the hammock and dedicate a few sunny minutes to learning the latest about sustainability, a hot tip is to check out the Whiteboard Seminar videos from Stockholm Resilience Centre.

These are short, informal presentations done by researchers on a particular issue. Each last no longer than 10 minutes and the researcher can only use a whiteboard and a pen to present and explain the issue.
Why not create your own summer course?

Some of the latests seminars include:

Envisioning a sustainable future

Beyond Gross Domestic Product

What is systems ecology?

All the seminars can be found here.
Here’s a taste, where Senior Research Fellow Brian Walker gives a simple explanation to what the concept of resilience means:


More Swedes are swapping instead of shopping

Just some of the things I found at the swap shelf. And yes, I have left plenty of things too... Photo: Sara Jeswani.

When I moved into my flat about five years ago, one of the things that I was most fascinated by was actually the common garbage room. What fascinated me wasn’t the garbage itself, or the recycling bins, but the “swap shelf” placed in the end of the room.

Here people can leave things that they don’t need themselves anymore, but are too good, new or well-working to go to waste.

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