Friday, February 17, 2012

Urban Beekeeping

Yesterday, I attended a class at The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) on Beekeeping. I've never been to The Hort before and was mesmerized by the plant setup they had there.  The room in which the lecture was held had the most amazing hanging planters on every window. I'm not exactly sure what these plant holders are made of but it looked like perhaps roof gutters of some sort.  This one featured some neat succulents and cacti.
I am so in love with this look!  I want to somehow rig one of these for my house.  It's such a beautiful way to do vertical gardening!
The planters were being held up by these metal bars attached to the wall. And each planter was drilled into the metal bars.
Here's a closeup of some of the succulents. They seemed to love the window placement. All the plants looked so healthy.
I also loved this lush large rubber plant and palm on casters.  I totally have to invest in rolling casters for my large plants.  What a great idea to be able to easily wheel these plants around.
The Urban Beekeeping lecture was given by Andrew Coté.  He is a 4th generation beekeeper and owner of Silvermine Apiaries in Connecticut.  I didn't get a good photo of him speaking since he was going through slides on a Powerpoint and the lights were dimmed.  In his lecture, Andrew discussed the history of beekeeping, the process of beekeeping and his own adventures as an urban beekeeper. He discussed how since 2010, beekeeping in New York City (and boroughs) is now legal and many beehives are in community gardens, backyards and even on city rooftops.  He told us how his next installation will be on the top of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  So. Very. Cool.
He is also the founder of a bee-based international development nonprofit, Bees Without Borders.  From The Hort website describing the work of Bees Without Borders, "Andrew and a group of dedicated apiarists teach beekeeping skills to groups of people in economically depressed areas of the globe as a means of poverty alleviation. This involves developing culturally appropriate training programs and materials for local beekeepers to increase honey yield and providing them with the opportunity to learn about and create new markets for their products." It's amazing that this non-profit goes to these developing countries to teach them how to raise honey.  Training them with a skill that they can use to make a living and become self sufficient. He brought back organic honey from his recent trip to Mwingi, Kenya, where he and other beekeepers from Bees Without Borders taught beekeeping skills. After the talk, we all tasted the honey. It is delicious!
All of the jars of honey were for sale and all of the proceeds from the sale of the honey goes back to the apiary in Mwingi. The funds will go towards the cost of building a fence around an apiary in Kenya to protect the hives from honey badgers. I bought a jar of the honey to support this noble cause!
After the talk, I was so inspired that I ended up signing up for a 4-week beekeeping course with the New York City Beekeeper's Association a beekeeping organization that Andrew is a core member of. In the 4 week course, it will "teach you everything you need to know to safely start and maintain a beehive."  I don't know if I'll end up having beehives in my backyard here in Staten Island, but I do want learn more about it and maybe one day raise honeybees. I love the idea of making my own local honey. The class starts in 3-weeks, I can't wait!


  1. How fun! You should get in touch with Zan Asha. She keeps bees in the Bronx. She has come out here to Iowa to teach classes on organic beekeeping and she is awesome! Or you can find her at bronxbees (dot)com. I don't know how close you would be to her but she would be a great resource. She also has several blogs: Beyond Vagabond and Renegade Farmer are the two that come to mind.

  2. Those gutter planters are really cool, I've seen something like that for outside, but not indoors.
    Beekeeping sounds so interesting, I love that they will be using the Waldorf Astoria!

  3. This is so cool, Mimi! What a great thing they are doing in Kenya. Sounds like you're laying the groundwork for keeping bees yourself at some point! A friend of mine just watched a documentary about how bees are dying everywhere due to pesticides and toxins...the more people keeping bees and planting native plants for them, the better.

  4. I think you made a great decision to sign up for this course. You've inspired me to search around my area for a similar course. We've been talking about learning more about bees. Long story...but sometime this summer we should be moving out to my boyfriends 17 acre farm and bees would be a perfect addition to the place.

    Good luck.

  5. I remember the research I did on bees and beekeeping for my blog. I think you will have a great time learning about honeybees. Just remember boys drool and girls rule! Also great photos of the urban catci :)

  6. i also like that looks in front of the windows! You should try it! We just had a groupon for a beekeeping set up - the guy comes to your house, chooses a site for the bees, sets up the hive, educates you, and in the spring, brings the bees (or however it works). I wanted to buy that whole package soooooo incredibly bad!!

  7. Meems,

    Really like the gutter planters! Good for you on the beekeeping class. We have 77 people in our beekeeping clubs classes right now. Not sure if it is too late to order bees, if you wants some hives I'd be looking into it yesterday. Have you seen the EPA petition on my blog post to save the honey bees?

  8. One hive wouldn't take up much room.

    Neat planters, they do look like gutter to me.


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