The middle of New York City could arguably be one of the last places you would expect to find a beekeeper. Up until 10 years ago, any beekeeping going on in the city would have had to be done in secret, as it was an illegal activity. But with the rearing of the honey-producing insects becoming legal within city limits in 2010, you might be surprised to know there are more than 1,300 members of NYCbeekeepers tending the pollinators.
Fair Companies recently got the inside scoop from one of them:
Guillermo Fernandez lives in a 21-story building, but "bees don't like high rises too much," he told Fair Companies. The more appropriate location for his hobby is just below Wall Street near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in the Battery Park Conservancy.
Before becoming legal, bees were listed "on a big list of dangerous animals," Guillermo explains, calling it silly considering a significant portion of our food is propagated thanks to bee pollination.
"We need bees," he said.
The plight of honeybees -- also known as Colony Collapse Disorder -- is well known, although its cause remains a mystery. It was declining populations and knowing that agriculture is dependent on them as pollinators, that spurred Guillermo to get involved with what Fair Companies calls the new "fashionable environmental cause."
"I wanted to do what I could with my one hive," Guillermo said.
Guillermo compares bee colonies to civilization.
"Of course we know about the queen bee and her court, but there are the bees that go collect the pollen, the bees that go collect the nectar. There are the mortician bees. There are the bees that are the nurse bees that nurse the young. They each have their own role, and in a way we see civilization in the hive."
The bee that Guillermo finds the most interesting are guard bees, which stand at the entrance of the hive and monitor the insects' comings and goings.
Guillermo goes on to explain that the queen is named Queen Bee-atrix, after the queen of the Netherlands. He notes that the area of city that's home to hive was once settled by the Dutch who brought their bees overseas to America.
"When the Dutch originally settled New York they arrived with their bees- they had their hives and their little gardens- and this was probably one of the locations where one of the little Dutch homes had its own hives."
Acknowledging that bees aren't quiet the cuddly pet type, Guillermo said he does feel close to the bees and feels a personal responsibility to take care of them.