With the GRABee project, a number of beehives were placed inside PArCo walls, spaced out along the path that winds around the southern side of the Palatine Hill. These hives are responsible for the production of our “Ambrosia del Palatino” honey.
The location of the PArCo beehives was chosen following the guidelines suggested by ancient sources: Varro, Columella, Pliny and, albeit in a poetic context, even Virgil all illustrate, unanimously, an identical ideal landscape for beekeeping: the writers all prescribe spacious, dry, well-ventilated areas and suggest that the hives be kept in isolated spots far from other animals and people; pollinator-friendly plants should be abundant and water should be readily available in the immediate vicinity.
We placed our hives at the base of the Romulean Huts, where the archaic history of Rome began, in one of the most peaceful and evocative areas of the PArCo, resplendent in Mediterranean vegetation. This location helped the bees adapt smoothly to their new environment and therefore ensured the project’s success; the hives have already produced a good quantity of high-quality honey.
Since Antiquity, honey has been a precious commodity for its confectionary, medicinal and cosmetic properties, so much so that it took on a divine symbolic value: ambrosia, the food that conferred immortality.
It’s also important to point out the importance of apiculture with regards to modern climate issues. Bees are precious pollinators, experts in fertilizing vegetation, but they are now at risk of extinction due to loss in habitat, decline in biodiversity and as an effect of climate breakdown.