Bees are not in a prime position in our world. Experts are reporting that honeybee numbers around the planet are in sharp decline — more than 3 million colonies have died in America alone since 2006. Pesticides are thought to be the main culprit, and scientists are scrambling to find a solution before the insects are wiped out across the planet.

But the BBC reports that one city is swiftly turning those numbers around. Paris, City of Light and fashion capital of the world, is becoming the urban honeybee center. The city has more than 400 hives and growing, most of which reside atop apartment buildings, restaurants and in city parks. Some of the city’s most famous restaurants and landmarks now boast their own honey production. Anyone can keep a hive — it just has to be registered with the city veterinarian and be at least 82 feet from a school or hospital.

And the city bees are flourishing. Interestingly enough, they are not suffering the same problems as their country cousins. As Guillaume Charlot of the association L'Abeille de Grand Paris (Bee Keepers of Paris) told the BBC, “a metropolitan hive produces 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of honey in an average year, and up to 80 kg in a bumper season. A country bee-keeper is happy if he gets 30.” The situation for French country bees has been as dire as the rest of the world. The BBC reports that since 1995, about 100,000 French hives have been lost. Scientists point to pesticides but also blame the varroa mite and even possible cell phone use for decimating bee populations.

The same is not true for Parisian bees. Paris has an abundance of cultivated flowers year round to encourage honey making. The city has also been pesticide-free for more than 10 years, and it boasts warmer temperatures to stimulate early breeding. In the country, one crop of flowers may service an entire bee population. And once the nectar is used up, the bees move on or die. In Paris, bees can simply move to another rooftop. Studies done on Parisian honey shows that it contains up to 250 pollens as opposed to the 15 or 20 pollens in honey made by country bees.

Declining honeybee population is worrisome, and not just because people like their sweets. The honeybee is a critical part of the food chain because it cross-pollinates up to 90 percent of the planet’s key crops. As the Daily Mail reports, a world without bees would “mean a largely meatless diet of rice and cereals, no cotton for textiles, no orchards or wildflowers and decimation among wild birds and animals in the bee food chain.” For now, it seems that the decline of honeybees has been tempered in Paris.

For further reading:

Paris is becoming the urban bee capital of the world
The City of Lights is now the City of Bees with 400 hives and rising.