Petition to legalize beekeeping in New York City

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

As a meadmaker and a practitioner of heathenry, what is happening to the worldwide honeybee population disturbs me on multiple levels. I have attended a beekeeping class where a New York State hive inspector from the Cornell Cooperative Extension all but got down on his knees and begged the attendees to start keeping their own bees.

Few things are more frightening in this world than real fear in the voice of a scientist, and I have seen this repeatedly as the global scientific community wrestles with the impending extinction of the European honeybee.

70% of the world’s food crops are pollinated by these bees. If the honeybee becomes extinct, the impact this will have on an already threatened ecological system will be dire.

For several decades, scientists have been trying to combat a persistent disease that affects honeybees, the infestation of the varroa mite. The “killer/Africanized bee” phenomenon occurred because scientists were attempting to crossbreed hardier African bees with European ones in an attempt to combat the varroa mite problem. This ended up working a bit too well and these more aggressive bees have given a black eye to the beekeeping industry all across the southern United States. However, the varroa mite problem is still a serious issue because the mites tend to evolve beyond treatment faster than treatment can be developed; and scientists are frustrated because what works one year against them seldom works the next.

In addition to the varroa mite problem, we now have the baffling issue of Colony Collapse Disorder. Entire hives disappear overnight. No bodies are found and the cause is still unknown. Theories range from cel phone radiation, insecticides used on seeds which remain in the plant, and forced migration of bee colonies by professional beekeepers. But no one knows for sure.

In a desperate effort to stay one step ahead of total extinction of the species, the industry is reaching out to educate the general population on these issues, and homeowners and hobbyists are being actively encouraged to start keeping their own hives where it is legal to do so. Every individual or group who invests their time, money and effort into keeping their own bees healthy is one more candle lit against a very frightening impending darkness. There is no guarantee of reward or return on investment, save that of knowing that it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

One of the coordinated efforts to combat the impending extinction is to legalize beekeeping in urban environments across the world. This effort has been documented in a recent Scientific American article. Scientific American has been excellent about covering the issue in general.

The most recent effort underway is to legalize beekeeping in New York City. Rooftop beekeeping is already prevalent all over the city and it is rumored that sellers in the Union Square farmer’s market are not getting all of their honey out of state; but should the city keepers be caught, they’d currently have to pay a $2000 fine.

The New York City Beekeeper’s Association is driving the signature of a petition to legalize beekeeping in New York City.  You don’t have to be a resident of New York City to sign the petition, but it would help.

We won’t keep this planet green or it’s people fed if we don’t save the honeybees. We won’t get a second chance. Don’t imagine a world without honey. Imagine a world without FOOD.

Please sign the petition.

Crossposted at Antemedius

15 comments

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  1. …but if the bees go down, we’ll all have worse problems than your inability to try it.

  2. Here’s a naive question: would bees find enough to eat in NYC?

  3. Congratulations. You have successfully signed the petition:

    Legalize Beekeeping in NYC!.

    You are signer #1122

    Even though I could never raise them. I am deathly allergic to the little bastards… they are better than the wasps and ground bees that have begun to fill their niche in MI that kill me even quicker.

  4. but aren’t there others that could be domesticated? They might not produce the levels of honey that honeybees do, but wouldn’t they be as effective in pollination?  

  5. Very important!  

    I signed, but did keep the number given me.

    Now, couldn’t we get a healthy emergence of hornets populating, well, let’s say in certain environs of D.C.?

  6. In Scientific American:

    Solving the Mystery of the Vanishing Bees

  7. once gave me a pint of his mead (he got the honey from someone else) and it was delicious.  Very dry – almost like a chenin blanc!

    I don’t know much about beekeeping, but one of my favorite unexpected applications of higher math is that the honeybee “waggle dance” can be modeled by a six-dimensional topological “flag manifold.”

    The mathematician who discovered this amazing idea was Barbara Shipman, the daughter of a beekeeper.

    She mapped the six-dimensional shape back onto two dimesions and found herself staring at the shape of the waggle dance she had grown up seeing the honeybees perform!

    • RUKind on April 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I’m upping my garden by a factor of 10 this year and could use the extra pollinators. Honeybees disappeared here in Plymouth, MA for years. I know this because I garden every year and grow some flowering trees. I just saw my first one a couple of years ago. They’re still a rare part of the mix. And the bumblebees seem too have gone the same way lately.

    BTW, the bird migration and right whales are three weeks ahead of schedule this year. Not that anyone’s noticing.

    I guess my career as an apiarist is about to begin. I love honey.

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