Apiterra, a hive that shakes up your business

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In recent years, employees in search of an eco-citizen sense but also entrepreneurs in search of sustainable performance have chosen to develop, in their workplace which offers outdoor spaces, a beekeeping approach. On June 12, Bordeaux Business visited the Mériadeck Shopping Centre, 57 rue du Château d’eau, to meet Witheseonore Baloud, centre director, and Ronan de Kervénoael, founder of Apiterra. Apiterra proposes to companies to install beehives in their premises ideally on the roofs. This approach, which may at first seem surprising, especially in the city, is actually two objectives. The first is to fight against this endangered species that is essential to us: bees. The second is to build a coherent CSR project for businesses.



Urban beekeeping to help bees


The beekeeping approach of companies is an example of synergies that can be transmitted to the general public especially concerning the shortage of hives: in fact, 4 million hives would be needed in the national territory which today contains only 1,300,000. Bees are essential to the survival of our ecosystem and contribute, through pollination, to 30% of our diet. However, globally, 30% of bees die each year from pesticides, Asian hornets or extensive agriculture. The balance of power is already being pushed as China now has to pollinate its fruity trees by hand, for lack of bees. However, no solution has been found to compensate for this disappearance. Far from conventional wisdom, urban beekeeping could appear as one of the solutions to the safeguarding of bees. Indeed, the city has the potential to support bees for several reasons. Indeed, in the city public gardens do not contain plant protection products, the temperature is higher and the diversity of flowers is greater than in the countryside, despite the concentration of fine particles that does not affect the health of bees.

It was in April 2010 that Ronan de Kervenoael began apiterra’s crazy adventure based on this observation and with the firm attention to make the bee known in the urban world.  After a career in the agri-food and tobacco industries, Ronan de Kervénoael decided to move towards an activity that “makes sense”. Now made up of a team of 11 employees and beekeepers in CDI,   Apiterra is based throughout the country, in Belgium and Luxembourg and currently works for 300 clients. In the Bordeaux region, Apiterra has installed beehives at the Grand Hommes gallery since 2017 and is also present at the AXA site in Mérignac.

The partnership between Apiterra and the Mériadeck Shopping Centre is part of this eco-citizen logic with the installation of three hives. The Mériadeck Shopping Centre is co-owned with the Auchan brand but also with Wereldhave, a Dutch property. Both have been involved for several years in other environmental initiatives such as the development of a vegetable garden, born of the employee initiative and which is now maintained by the children of the Union Saint Bruno. The building also saves energy and treats waste with respect for biodiversity. These activities have earned him international BREEAM certification. The criteria for certification are those of an environmental performance assessment on the building and building management, which give consistency to a CSR project.



Bees, an unusual CSR tool


Urban beekeeping allows many companies and administrations to value their CSR approach. This is particularly the case for organisations such as L’Oréal, Accor Hotels, Nestlé, the Ministry of Justice and Clarins. Whether the private or public sector, prestigious organizations do not hesitate to invest in CSR in order to save energy, motivate its employees, innovate and be in tune with the brand image developed. INRA d’Avignon has teamed up with Apiterra to advance the bee research unit, as well as the beekeeping skills of the entire sector.

While Corporate Social Responsibility is increasingly a tool for communicating, differentiating and being transparent, the beekeeping approach is not affected by aspects of “greenwashing”. Indeed, the main fear of the founder of Apiterra was that this initiative was ultimately only a fashion effect for the corporate customers. However, his fears quickly dissipated as since its launch in April 2010, 97% of the organizations that have used Apiterra are still customers.

These CSR providers such as Apiterra operate on a specific business model. In the case of Apiterra, no challenges apply, companies receive an annual service delivery, turnkey solution.  Bees are insured, declared and monitored according to a very specific health book, which is the same throughout the country.

The advantage of using a provider who is committed to an eco-citizen approach for your organization is that beyond the environmental impact the goal is to reach the entire company and through it, employees and their entourage in order to establish a powerful leverage. For example, on Family Day, which is Family Day in Business, Apiterra organizes workshops for beekeeping training children. Enough to delight young and old entrepreneurs.



Talking about the beekeeping approach in business leads us to think about related issues such as honey smuggling. Indeed, the production of honey in France is equivalent   to 10,000 tons per year. To meet national demand, it would require nearly 40,000 tonnes of it. While the Aquitaine beekeeping industry is home to nearly 76,000 hives, this rapidly increasing global consumption causes a wild export that is not at all adapted to the natural rhythm of bees. A worker bee produces 7 grams of honey during its lifetime. Imported honey is a fraudulent product that does not meet established sanitary standards. Thus the absence of honey highlights the absence of bees. It is from this observation that many companies and CSR providers   have decided to form a partnership and give meaning to their commercial activity and make their contribution to the social and environmental edifice.


Justine ANGIBAUD – BORDEAUX Business




Bordeaux Business, “Dosmia bees fly to farmers’ aid, 2018



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