Happy bees and seas of flowers

When Sandra Keller walks across the Roche factory in Mannheim, Germany, her gaze wanders over a sea of flowers, with bees buzzing around and birds singing in the background. In the middle of the idyllic greenery, one almost forgets that this is a huge industrial plant with over 8300 employees.

Sandra is the landscape gardener and architect responsible for the design of the green spaces on site. Colleagues affectionately call her the "ruler of all greenery". She herself says: "The job makes me happy. I work a lot on the computer, but enjoy spending just as much time outside. I'm always thinking about what we can do better."

Her goal is "to give nature a bit of space". This also includes providing habitat for as many animals as possible. Since 2016, a total of five flower meadows have been planted, and new ones are being planned. There are numerous insect ‘hotels’ scattered around the plant, which provide shelter for insects with various housing needs. Two ponds are home to fish, dragonflies and even a newt.

The two bee colonies are a recent addition. The idea came from Dietmar Beck, who is responsible for building maintenance at the Mannheim site. "I spoke to a colleague who is also an amateur beekeeper. This gave rise to the idea of setting up beehives on the site. We then set up two bee colonies in the park near the old casino. Next, we want to put one or two more hives on the roof of our new parking garage."

Sandra and Dietmar are working closely to make the plants at the site as bee-friendly as possible. New bushes which carry pollen early were planted especially for this purpose. At the same time, plants that flower well beyond the summer were added on site so that the bees could also find food in autumn.

The roofs at the site are also planted with greenery and provide additional space for bees and all kinds of other insects on almost 18000 m² – the equivalent of a good two and a half football fields. With all this special attention, the bees are a happy lot: in the first harvest they already produced 50 kilograms of honey. The label bears the appropriate inscription "A glass full of happiness".

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