According to Al-Jazeera, there has been an unexpected boom in the honeybee population of several major American cities. In addition to NYC, metropolitan areas like Denver, Minneapolis, and D.C. are all abuzz over legalized urban beekeeping.
NYC was the first urban area to legalize beekeeping in 2010, and a few others have followed suit after seeing how successful it has become.
While there were only a few dozen beehives in the Big Apple before the legislation was passed, there are now over 276 registered to the city’s Department of Health.
Despite the honeybee population increase in urban areas, there seems to be a continuing downward spiral in the national population. Experts attribute the national decrease to what they call The Four P’s: pesticides, parasites, pathogens, and poor nutrition.
Los Angeles is another city that has legislation pending to legalize urban beekeeping, but a recent swarming incident may change the minds of some voters.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a man was recently hospitalized in Costa Mesa after disturbing a bee hive while taking shingles off of a roof.
About 65% of homeowners say that weather damage is the main reason for repairing their roof, but a serious bee infestation isn’t a bad reason to do so, either.
The man was stung 50-100 times and “went off the roof as quickly as he could, screaming,” said Deputy Fire Chief Fred Seguin. He was taken to a local trauma center for treatment.
Despite harrowing tales such as the one in Costa Mesa, urban beekeeping continues to thrive. Anthony Planakis, the NYPD’s former official beekeeper, thinks that the true essence of the hobby may be lost on some who just take it up for show.
“All of the sudden everybody wants to be a beekeeper,” said Planakis. “Everybody thinks ‘Oh it’s the in thing to do.’ And I looked at lot of people and I would tell them, ‘Listen, there’s a lot more to keeping bees than having a box on your roof and a wine and cheese party and talking to your friend and saying ‘I’m a beekeeper.’ This is an extended family. You have to take care of them.”
Regardless of the sweeping popularity of beekeeping that urban areas seems to be privy to at the moment, bee experts like Gene Robinson, a biology professor at the University of Illinois, think that the national dearth of bees is still too much for cities to completely trump.
“Cities can have a very strong positive affect on bee populations,” said Robinson, “but not enough to turn things around completely.”