Italy’s Carabinieri police not only fight crime but pollution, too. Bees are the police force’s informers as they monitor the health of the country’s environment.
A special unit of the Carabinieri works to protect forests and the environment. On the roof of their headquarters in Rome, the unit’s beehives are a source of information. In place since 2018, the bees have kept a steady flow of biodiversity indicators coming the force’s way.
“One of the main duties of Italy’s Carabinieri police force is to monitor the environment but here we’re using bees in a new way, as biodiversity indicators. They monitor an area that’s 1.5-2km in size. That helps us to can gather useful information, which isn’t normally available, about the atmospheric pollutants that might be present in urban areas, such as dioxins and other substances,” explained Lieut. Col. Giancarlo Papitto, from the Carabinieri’s Forestry and Environment Unit Command.
More than a buzzword
The police take the environment very seriously and the bees have been providing vital information on air pollution levels, General Pietro Antonio Marzo told Euronews.
“This will allow us to have a fuller picture of the situation and help improve to urban living and will affect political decisions in a way that will improve the quality of life in our cities and the health of our citizens,” he says.
The Carabinieri intend to cross-pollinate with other cities in Italy. A recent €500,000 investment will see the beekeeping project extend across the country. They also hope the idea will germinate across Europe.
Lieut. Col Giancarlo Papitto told Euronews, “Italy could become the first pilot case. And what has been achieved here could be replicated across the rest of Europe.”
Why monitor in cities?
The President of Italy’s Apiculture Federation Raffaele Cirone says urban areas are a haven for bees.
“Cities are naturally rich in biodiversity. If you take balconies, for example, where so many different plants are being taken care of, or gardens and green urban areas, these are filled with species that appeal to bees. Both the nectar and the pollen being produced in Rome tell us that the city has a great variety of flowers,” Cirone said.