Urban beekeepers are legal and back in business here in New York City as of 2010. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s administration “added honeybees to a list of over one hundred wild animals, including hyenas, pet vipers and dingoes, considered too dangerous for urban life. It’s not clear why the City suddenly outlawed honeybees after a long history in which the insects and their keepers had not been mentioned in the rules and were bound only by state regulations. It could have been part of the mayor’s crackdown on all things people fear. When people think of bees they don’t envision the gently forager collecting nectar for her sisters, but an angry swarm buzzing after a frantic victim who jumps into a pond.” Eat the City by Robin Shulman.
A bu-sy bu-sy bu-sy bee…as my son would sing after watching an episode all about honey bees from Reading Rainbow.
And so a recent excursion took me to Union Square Farmer’s Market to meet up with Andrew Coté of Andrew’s Honey, who helped launch the New York City Beekeepers Association.
As my son has started a bee inquiry in his pre-k class, I must say that until now, my knowledge about them was quite limited. Take honey bees, for instance. Honey bees were not native to North America but were brought over in hives by European settlers.
“The honey bee, as remarkable as it is, doesn’t know how to pollinate a tomato or eggplant flower, while some native bees are masters at this. The same thing happens with a number of native plants, such as pumpkins and watermelons, or blueberries and cranberries, which are more efficiently pollinated by native bees than by honey bees.“
According to The Life and Times of the Honey Bee by Charles Micucci, “Bees evolved in the dinosaur age, 100,000,000 B.C. and the ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first bee keepers.”
With that said, I made the following purchases at the farmer’s market from Andrew’s Honey: butterbean, blueberry and buckwheat. These are honeys which are harvested in the fall season.
As far as taste is concerned, the butterbean honey is very light in flavor, almost what I might call having a “pure” honey taste whereas the blueberry honey was intensely sweet with a hint of blueberry as a final note. Buckwheat honey is dark in color and robust in taste, much like molasses where the flavor lingers for a bit. I offered to share them with my son’s pre-k so they could experience a honey tasting. Am curious to see how this will go over.
My recommendation is to visit your local farmer’s market to find out what is the seasonal honey for your area and support your local bee keepers!