New York City beekeeping  NOV 24 2008

Interview with David Graves, NYC beekeeper.

For Berkshire bees, quitting time is about 5 pm. New York City bees, they work harder and longer. And as you can see, we're here before 7 am, and these bees are already starting to work, whereas the country bees won't be opening the doors till about 9 am. And these city bees will still be hard at work at 7 tonight! Maybe it's because it's warmer here or maybe it's the city lights. Whatever it is, they definitely work longer hours.

Graves is one of a number of New York City beekeepers who defy the city health code and risk the $2000 fine levied upon its violation.

But in New York, bees are reprobate and illegal. They appear in the City Health Code's Section 161.01, along with an enormous list of animals "naturally inclined to do harm or capable of inflicting harm," lumped in with the truly ferocious/impractical-polar bear, cougar, alligator, whale-and a menagerie of the truly obscure. Actively encouraged by almost every other self-respecting cultural capital, the common honey bee, according to Health Department logic, must be banished along with binturongs, sea kraits, coatimundis, numbats and zorilles.

Graves has been at this awhile...a NY Times article called him the "Johnny Appleseed of New York beedom" in 1999.

All right, but why beekeeping? "After you do it, everything else in life is calm," said Mr. Solomon, the investment banker. "Let me tell you, 40,000 bees will teach you the power of concentration and patience."

Graves' "Rooftop Magic" Honey is available for purchase online. Some say that eating local honey helps with seasonal allergies but evidence is scarce. Oh and you can order your own package of bees here...three pounds of Buckfast with a queen is just $130. (via clusterflock)

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