Think the outdoors in the city can't produce honey like it can in the country? Just talk to David Graves, of Berkshire Berries, who makes NYC Rooftop Honey. He keeps beehives on rooftops as high as 12 stories, and says that the city is a great place for bees. Graves has hundreds of thousands of honeybees in seven hives in three boroughs, including Manhattan. Each of his hives can produce 50 pounds of honey a year, which he sells for $5 per half-pound at the city's greenmarkets.
Graves relays one crazy incident in the linked article. When one of his hive's buildings needed a roof repair, the hive had to be taken down. By elevator: I just put the hive in the elevator and brought it down, maybe 25,000 live bees in an elevator, 12 stories down. But the landlord was brought up on a farm, he knows they're not dangerous.
With recent drops in the bee population, one might think of taking up beekeeping. But if you're thinking about getting into this yourself, we stumbled upon this at the NY Food Museum: In the United States, bees, responsible for the food development of one out of every three bites in every meal, are currently at grave risk from opportunistic disease and predators. Strengthening and preserving the bee population will depend on “hobby” beekeepers — and currently, there are less than 20 registered in New York State. Sadly, beekeeping is illegal in New York City, where community gardens could foster healthy bee populations. Educating the public about the vital contributions of bees — and the potential crisis posed by their diminishing numbers -- could be a fascinating, beautiful and timely traveling exhibit. We are investigating possible collaborations with organizations concerned with agriculture, biodiversity and science education.
Other press on rooftop beekeeping:
•NPR's All Things Considered