Bee Advocates Push for Urban Beekeeping at Public Hearing

February 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm 2 comments

Here’s another reason for lifting the ban on beekeeping in New York City: Mayor Bloomberg’s Million Trees campaign. Without bees, the million trees being planted as part of the city’s long-term greening initiative won’t flourish.

“All of the trees we plant in our urban forest originate from actual forests and most of the these deciduous hardwood trees are pollinated by bees,” said Naomi Zurcher, a certified arborist who testified at a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the city’s Health Code that would legalize beekeeping. The hearing was held at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on February 6.

“Where I live in the Lower East Side, there are more trees than ever, but many of the new trees are not thriving,” said Marisa DeDominicis. In addition to healthy soil and more expansive tree beds, she said, trees need bees, “the most effective pollinators around.”

Other bee advocates made the usual arguments in favor of bees: they increase the productivity of the city’s community gardens, pollinate plants and flowers in city parks, and provide income for small-scale agricultural entrepreneurs through the sale of honey and other bee products.

Andrew Coté, president of the New York City Beekeepers Association, noted that a well-managed bee colony can produce more than 100 pounds of honey in a year, as well as honeycomb, beeswax, and pollen.

“The income-generating potential of beehives is very high relative to the space that they occupy,” said David Vigil, farm manager at East New York Farms!, an organization that runs two urban farms in East New York, Brooklyn. Low-income communities in Central Brooklyn, Harlem and the South Bronx, in particular, would welcome the revenue opportunities of beekeeping.

A representative from the Rainforest Alliance (didn’t catch his name) used humor to wrap up his case for bees. “It will increase the supply of baklava,” he said.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will vote on the proposed amendment to the Health Code at its board meeting on March 16.

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Entry filed under: City Farmers, Community Gardens, Local Food Production, Urban Agriculture. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. BestBeekeeping  |  February 15, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Fantastic! The momentum is really building to get this ridiculous law overturned. We should not only allow but actively encourage beekeeping in NYC – the importance of bees as mother nature’s helpers cannot be overstated.

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