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Stung by recent confiscation, NYC beekeepers protest rules banning backyard hives
23 June 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - There's a secret buzzing around the rooftops and backyard gardens of New York.

Despite city regulations prohibiting it, hundreds of New Yorkers have kept beehives on rooftops and backyard gardens for years, defying the law in their efforts to create something sustainable in the urban environment.

They're people like 61-year-old Deborah Romano, a gardener and first-time beekeeper in Brooklyn. She had hopes of selling honey at the city's various green markets -- but that dream was put on hold when a complaint drew city inspectors, she was ordered to pay a fine and her hive was removed.

"I grew up in the 60s; I haven't always been law-abiding," Romano joked. "But really, I wasn't thinking about the legality of it. I was more thinking about the company I'd be keeping," she said, referring to the family of President Barack Obama, which recently installed a hive in the south lawn of the White House.

It's an issue that has bee enthusiasts, well, abuzz. More than a dozen gathered Tuesday on the steps of City Hall in support of Romano and to push a city bill that would legalize beekeeping in the nation's largest metropolis.

The New York City Health Code prohibits keeping bees and more than 100 other wild animals, including iguanas, venomous snakes, ferrets and elephants. The Health Department maintains that bees are venomous insects that can sting people and in some cases cause a severe allergic reaction.

So far this year, the Health Department has received 49 bee or wasp complaints. Nine inspections have been conducted, and just four summonses have been issued.

But those in favor of city beekeeping point out that honeybees help pollinate plants and flowers. Beekeepers, they said, are performing a public service. Beekeeping is currently legal in cities including Chicago; Atlanta; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; Minneapolis; Toronto; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Honeybees are "the least likely to sting you," as opposed to wasps and hornets, said Jackie Berger, executive director of Just Food, a New York-based group supporting sustainable food sources.

"Unless you go up and kick their hive, they're really not interested in people," she said. "For them, a sting is a suicide mission. They do not survive it. So it's really a last-ditch effort of a honeybee."

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the proposal to legalize beekeeping would impose a licensing system on all city beekeepers.

"Right now we have the worst of both worlds. We have people who want to engage in this activity but they don't want to be outlawed. Meanwhile, you have an underground beekeeping world that we're not regulating at all," he said.

"We know a lot of people are keeping bees," he said. "What we don't know is whether all of them know what they're doing."

Romano said she never considered herself a criminal. She would put on a veil, long sleeves and pants, then snap on latex gloves before approaching her backyard beehive cautiously, with a smoking tin can in hand, the slender stream of smoke keeping the bees calm.

Then, one by one, she'd pull out the hive's panels, inspecting the tens of thousands of bees buzzing around the hive.

She installed the hives in April after checking with most of her neighbors to make sure they were "fine" with the bees. Still, someone made a call to the city to complain.

"I don't know why (that neighbor) did it," she said at the rally. "But my guess is that it probably was a combination of ignorance and fear. They didn't understand how vital bees are to our very existence on the planet, and a more livable existence in NYC. They probably didn't realize that honeybees and other pollinating insects are more endangered than dangerous."
 

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"Unless you go up and kick their hive, they're really not interested in people," she said. "For them, a sting is a suicide mission. They do not survive it. So it's really a last-ditch effort of a honeybee."
Then why the heck do they seem to follow me everywhere as if I had flowers growing in my hair :rant:
Then again, hornets, bees, it's all stripes to me
 

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bzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz
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-damn bee





Then why the heck do they seem to follow me everywhere as if I had flowers growing in my hair :rant:
Then again, hornets, bees, it's all stripes to me
you probably like sweets and bees like you for that :lol:
 

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8,000 bees go sightseeing in NYC
29 June 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - An urban bee-wrangler says a swarm of at least 8,000 honeybees will be getting a new home after causing a buzz of excitement on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Onlookers applauded as the New York Police Department's beekeeper, Officer Anthony Planakis, corralled the huge swarm Sunday on Lexington Avenue.

The bees had built a giant hive in a tree. When the queen went sightseeing, the entire swarm followed.

Onlooker Doug Becker described "a 3 foot column of bees."

The tour group proceeded half a block before buzzing back to the hive.

Planakis said the bees would be taken "to a farm in Connecticut to pollinate."

Last week, bee enthusiasts gathered on the steps of City Hall to push a bill that would legalize beekeeping in New York City.

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Information from: New York Post
 

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The honeybee has been decimated out here (east Nassau). I saw the first one of the season in a patch of lawn clover about July 1st, whereas they'd be in the first open crocus in late Feb/early March. That started changing after 2004 in a big way, as evidently pesticides have somehow played havoc with their sensory ability, and have caused them to abandon hives in mass. The fact that urbanites are straining to keep them is truly awesome.
 
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