Is New York City Running out of Space for Bees?

Urban beekeepers are like rock stars among those of us who are concerned about honeybees, but could their swelling ranks spell doom for the bees we're trying to help?

Over at BoingBoing, Maggie Koerth-Baker linked to this recent WNYC story that paints a grim picture for the future of New York City’s urban beekeeping scene.

The concern is that the popularity of beekeeping in certain New York City neighborhoods will put a strain on the supply of forage available for all of their bees.

Since the city legalized beekeeping in 2010 it has registered 200 hives, and there are estimates that an equal number of beehives remain "off the books."

Listen to the WNYC Urban Beekeeping Story

According to Anthony Planakis, the NYPD officer who handles many of the city’s bee calls, like the bee swarm this spring, there should be one hive per acre of green space to sustain a healthy bee colony.

What happens when there isn’t enough forage to meet demand?

The popularity of beekeeping in London lead to starving bees in certain neighborhoods when there wasn’t enough forage for all the bees, and beekeepers had to resort to drastic measures.

“What happens is they don’t get enough pollen and nectar and people feed them on syrups, and it’s the equivalent of eating hamburgers for six months,” Angela Woods, secretary of the London Bee Keepers Association, told WYNC.

For the record, WYNC interviews at least one New York City beekeeper who doesn’t think they will be facing a problem any time soon. He notes that bees will travel anywhere from three to five miles to forage.

The story doesn’t offer New Yorkers any advice to prevent the pending bee apocalypse, but the solution seems simple to me: build more gardens.

Want more garden goodness? Follow the MrBrownThumb urban gardening blog, also on G+, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

Is New York City Running out of Space for Bees?
Two years after legalizing urban beekeeping New York City could be running out of space for bees.

Related Content on