Image via The Co-Op Group Urban Bees’ Revolution
On June 1, the United Nations joined a growing local trend—they installed three apiary yards, better known as beehives, on their grounds in midtown Manhattan. The UN is hopeful that by summer’s end, their 150 bees will turn into a thriving colony of 250,000 bees. If this happens, the UN bees will not be alone. There are millions of bees buzzing around the five boroughs and not only in the backyards of earthy residents in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Greenpoint. From the rooftops of high-rises in Manhattan to community gardens stretching from the Bronx to Staten Island, New York City is home to thousands of active beehives, but this wasn’t always the case
Prior to a 2010 ruling, beekeeping existed in the five boroughs but only under the radar. At the time, the city deemed beekeeping to be as dangerous as keeping cobras, tarantulas, or hyenas on one’s property. Indeed, if caught, underground beekeepers faced hefty fines of up to $2000. Since the 2010 ruling that legalized beekeeping, both bees and beekeepers have been on the rise citywide and so have organizations and services designed to help residents explore apiculture.
learn more about beekeeping in the city
When 6sqft interviewed beekeeper and founder of Andrew’s Honey Andrew Coté, he described how when he first started beekeeping in the city he placed his beehives wherever he could — “on top of the bridge cafe in the Financial District, community gardens, friends’ rooftops or balconies.” Though he now has an entire system of rooftop hives, other New Yorkers looking to get buzzing can still employ his small-scale take on apiculture.
It was with this urban beekeeper in mind that German illustrator Maria Emmrich designed her modular Manufaktur Eins, which takes up less room than a standard hive. Designboom notes that it “combines the natural needs of the insects and the ergonomic requirements of the beekeepers” to create a stylish way to raise honeybees anywhere from a balcony to a garden.
More on this design-friendly beehive
On rooftops throughout the city, there’s a great deal of activity taking place. This hustle and bustle isn’t coming from the construction of new skyscrapers, but instead from beehives across the city where honeybees are hard at work. The keeper for many of these bees is Andrew Coté, who at the height of spring and summer works at least 14 hours a day, seven days a week tending to them.
Andrew traces his family’s beekeeping roots to the 1800s in Quebec, Canada. In the 1970s, his father carried this tradition to Connecticut by starting a farm and selling honey, and a decade ago, Andrew brought beekeeping to the city. As a New York City beekeeper, his work focuses on overseeing clients’ hives on business and hotel roofs as well his own hives in neighborhoods ranging from Prospect Heights to the Upper East Side. Andrew harvests the honey from his hives, bottles, and then sells it at Union Square Market for his company, Andrew’s Honey. Depending on what jar customers pick up, they might be purchasing Forest Hills, Central Park or Harlem honey.
With spring starting this Sunday, we recently spoke with Andrew to find out what all the buzz is about.
read our interview with andrew here