Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Urban Beekeepers

It seems bees are moving to the city -- and not just DC.

According to a recent Grist article, this fall marked the first year hobbyist beekeeping was considered legal in New York City.

"In March of last year, the New York City Board of Health and Mental Hygiene took Apis mellifera, the common honeybee, off [its] list of insects and animals considered too dangerous for city life," the article reads. "As a result, beekeepers registered a record number of hives with the board in 2011."

But along with the influx of "backyard" (more like rooftops and fire escapes) beehives, of course comes challenges like anxious neighbors and red tape.

The article highlights regulations and inspections that, for beekeepers, are "unpredictable at best," as well as "urban" honey created when bees foraged at a nearby maraschino cherry factory.

So far, the beehives that DC Honeybees manages within the District have actually fared better than most of the hives in suburban and rural areas. I have to believe it's because there's a lot of biodiversity within the city limits that sustains honeybees. You might not think about it, but the window boxes and corporate planters already offer more pollen and nectar than endless strings of front yards composed of mostly grass. Not only that, but consider how many more trees there are in DC than say a soybean field in West Virginia. Honeybees get most of their nectar from tree blossoms in the spring.

I think it's great to see cities embrace beekeeping, and from the growing popularity of the burgeoning hobby, it seems many others agree. Now we just need more people who can get over the fear of getting stung!

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