Update: A battle for the bees appears to be emerging as since this story was published both Eversheds and Allen & Overy have contacted The Lawyer expressing an interest in taking them. Both firms already house hives, in their London and Paris offices respectively.
Olswang’s 80,000 bees are looking for a new home after it emerged the firm will leave them behind when it moves into CMS Cameron McKenna’s offices in the next few months.
Olswang – which will merge with CMS and Nabarro on 1 May – has kept a hive of bees on its 90 High Holborn roof top terrace since 2011.
The firm has been silent on what will happen to its bees when it moves offices, but a source confirmed it will not take the bees to Cannon Place and the hive has not yet found a new owner.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is set to move into Olswang’s old offices later this year and the firm was approached for comment on whether it would take over the care of the bees.
It is understood that charity organisation Bee London, which is responsible for the bees, is currently looking for another place to house them.
Coincidentally, Mishcon de Reya director of business development Elliott Moss is chairman of Bee London and champions the Business Improvement District.
The bees, which are currently understood to be “sleeping”, can be traumatised if they are moved. Bee London is therefore looking for a nearby central London location to house them.
Bee London chief executive Tass Mavrogordato said: “Olswang is a fantastic partner and its roof garden at 90 High Holborn has provided a unique home for Bee London bees. We will be finding the bees a suitable new home in the coming months.”
Beekeeping has become popular among law firms in the last few years, with Mishcon de Reya, Ashurst, Linklaters and Allen & Overy all nursing hives in their offices.
The honey from hives across London has been used in cocktails, beverages and has been packaged up to share with supporters of the initiative.
In 2011, Olswang’s Gardening and Bee Club transformed an otherwise unused concrete roof top space into an eco-friendly garden, housing bees for the first time at 90 High Holborn.
At the time, the firm said: “Olswang’s pioneering project brings colonies of bees into city areas.
“The roof top garden is now home to thousands of bees, which are tended by Olswang’s enthusiastic Bee Club and supervised by Urban Beekeeping, an organisation of professional beekeepers.”
As one of the firm’s most celebrated corporate social responsibility project, the firm leveraged the bee project to win the ‘Best Biodiversity Project’ at the Inmidtown BuzzBee Awards 2014 for an innovative rooftop beekeeping scheme at its London office in Holborn.
Ahead of the entire office moving to CMS’s headquarters, partners were speculating as to the future of the hives. “Maybe they will set them free,” one ex-partner told The Lawyer, “although it would be horrifying if a swarm was loose round Chancery Lane.”
“They are refubees,” one disappointed ex-Olswang partner said. “Everyone thinks about partners, associates and trainee moves when a firm merges. But for crying out loud, who will think of the bees?”