May 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm , by Khalil Hymore
While most city dwellers dream of adopting a dog or a cat to live with them in their cramped NYC apartments, I have a different dream. My dream is bees. Uh-huh, you heard correctly. Bees. Confused? Don’t “bee” (Ha, ha—I couldn’t resist.)
It started years ago, during a saturday morning stroll through my local greenmarket. I spied a bottle that read “New York City Honey.” Honey in the city? Surely it must be imported from a neighboring county or state…NYC doesn’t have hives, right? Wrong! Our urban oasis is littered with honey bee hives, mostly housed on rooftops and tucked away in secret community gardens. From the Bronx to Brooklyn and boroughs in between, (formerly) renegade beekeepers have been housing bees and reaping the benefits (honey) for years. Until recently, keeping bees within the limits of New York City had been deemed illegal as they were considered to be too dangerous, but in March, the city’s board of health voted to lift the ban, so my dream may end up becoming a reality.
A boom in backyard beekeeping couldn’t be coming at a better time. Honey bees have been in the media a lot lately, with reports of colony collapse disorder (when a large number of honey bees go missing) becoming more widespread. This has prompted companies, like Haagen Daz and Burt’s Bees, to launch bee survival campaigns. It might not sound like a big deal, but bees help pollinate many of the crops that we feed ourselves with. This is the draw for many an urban and suburban beekeeper.
But, I suspect it’s more than that. To me, beekeeping seems romantic and exotic. A zen activity amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s also relatively inexpensive (you can order a starter kit on the internet for about $150), extremely low maintenance and, of course, delicious. In a good year it’s possible for one hive to produce 50 pounds of honey a season. This is the appeal for me—an abundance of local honey (which may even provide a welcome relief to allergy sufferers).
To get started in your backyard and to learn more about beekeeping laws in your region consult the American Beekeeping Federation.
Photo courtesy of cygnus921.