Fukuoka: Beekeeping Starts under Apricot Trees at Historic Site

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Japanese honey bee hive that has been set up under a Japanese apricot tree is seen in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, in June.

DAZAIFU, Fukuoka — The city government and a nonprofit organization in Fukuoka Prefecture have started beekeeping on a trial basis under ume Japanese apricot trees at the site of ancient government office ruins, which have been designated as a special historic site.

The Dazaifu Government Office Ruins, located in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, date back about 1,300 years ago and took charge of administration, defense and diplomatic affairs for Kyushu.

The beekeeping initiative has been launched in Kuratsukasa District, which is located to the west of where the Dazaifu government buildings once stood. The district used to be home to warehouses that stored items such as specialty goods delivered from around the country.

Dazaifu has historically been closely associated with Japanese apricots as often mentioned in ancient Japanese literature.

Two hives for about 4,000 Japanese honey bees in the district have been set up under the apricot trees. The city hopes that the bees’ pollination activities will help invigorate the apricot trees and increase their fruit yield. It also plans to develop specialty products with honey and fruits from the apiculture and use the proceeds from the products to maintain the historic site.

As the commercial use of apricot trees at the historic site, which has been subsidized by the central government, could have violated the law, fallen fruit had been used as food for wild boars.

The regulations were eased after the city asked the central government to do so, and confectionaries, sake, ciders and other products have been developed with the ume apricots.