The Buzz about Bees
Beekeepers and bee enthusiasts from all boroughs of New York swarmed the steps of City Hall today to make the case for bees — they pollinate the city’s gardens, produce honey, and even provide a revenue source for enterprising New Yorkers.
The bee advocates congregated at City Hall for a press conference with New York City Councilman David Yassky, the champion of a bill to legalize beekeeping in the city. The bill would require city beekeepers to get licensed.
Councilman Yassky confessed that he was bee-adverse at first but came around once he learned that beekeeping is “totally safe if done properly.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a strong supporter of local food and environmental initiatives in the city, backed the bill, saying that it would help create a healthier, more sustainable city and a greener economy.
Bees are critical to the health of city parks and gardens, particularly large food-producing community gardens or “urban farms.” They pollinate plants allowing crops to develop.
Without bees the squash blossoms would not “swell into fruit,” said Deborah Greig, urban agriculture coordinator at East New York Farms!, a large community garden in East New York, Brooklyn. She noted that the garden, along with others in the neighborhood, produced 14,000 pounds of food last season and credited the productivity of local gardens to honeybees.
New York City has a strong community of underground beekeepers. The legalization of beekeeping would ensure that the city’s clandestine beekeepers would manage their hives safely, while encouraging new beekeepers, noted Councilman Yassky.
Mr. Stringer — that’s Stringer, not “Stinger”, he joked — rallied the crowd. “Let’s build the sustainable movement,” he said, “bee by bee.”