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The Plight of the Humble Beekeeper

Daily Gullet Staff

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So, I admit I'm a long time e-gullet reader and infrequent writer (this, I think makes post four or five) and to make matters worse, late to the discussion.

Still, I recently spent some time researching a story on rooftop honey and bees and really loved this article and the discussion. I wanted to pass along the info I recently picked up about city honey in an unlikely place: Chicago. So, there are a couple of hives on top of City Hall (part of an eco-friendly rooftop garden) but more interesting to me is the Chicago Honey Co-op - their 30 members have 100 hives atop a warehouse on the city's west side. Since Chicago has an agriculture past (there were stockyards after all), there are volumes of clover keeping the bees happy and well fed.

Co-op members get half the production, but also learn to work the hives, extract honey, make candles and work the farmer's markets. The co-op also does the extraction for the City Hall honey. Some local organizations (schools and museums) are sponsoring hives and bringing their young students to the "bee farm." Co-op members also teach beekeeping as well and see it as an important way of producing great, quality food close to home. So at least in one city, folks are trying to keep the craft alive.

"And when there were no crawdads to be found, we ate sand."

"You ate what?"


Raising Arizona

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  • 3 weeks later...

I wanted to drop by and bump up this thread as I read another alarming article today with new information:


From the article:

"In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country. "

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  • 9 months later...
  • 3 months later...

Hello Shaun,

I hope your bee endeavors have thus far been successful. Yesterday I got my first hive and can relate to your comment about how tame the bees are. So far so good.

I got started after a friend of mine from Moldova (tiny country between Ukraine and Romania) told me about both how easy it is to care for bees and how much honey they produce. I'd heard of the plight of the missing honeybees, have a nice piece of land, and figured I might enjoy helping out a little bit while at the same time improving pollination of my apple trees.

It seems Romanians in particular are experienced with bees, perhaps a bee supply shop would confirm that most of their customers are Romanian (?). A lot of people in my friend's tight-knit community are bee enthusiasts now, and grew up in the "old country" raising bees. As for my friend, he drove from Seattle to Portland to pickup a hive for me and due to small hole in the packing, a bunch of them escaped and were flying all over his van as he drove along the highway. No stings though--imagine this guy and his wife for 3 hours in a car with a few hundred loose bees and they were just calm. After the bees settled down a bit we unloaded the hive, me with a hat/net and gloves, but he was just bare-handed and in a t-shirt. No stings at all.

I also ordered a hive from a company in Auburn WA called Trees n Bees, and will go get it today. As I understand, generally people in the Pacific Northwest have to reserve bees in Jan/Feb then they are trucked up from California in early April.

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  • 6 years later...

Apiaries at airports



For nearly a decade, scientists have been alarmed by steep drops in honeybee populations. Annual losses of around 30 percent, on average, have been attributed to colony collapse disorder and other pressures, including diseases, pesticides, extreme weather and habitat loss. The toll appeared to ease slightly last year, though researchers cautioned that one year hardly indicated a trend.


While airport hives will have only a limited role in propping up bee populations, Elina Lastro Niño, an apiculturist at the University of California, Davis, said that as long as there was no spraying of pesticides, airports could make great environments for honeybees, and could help educate the public.


“If you have an airport where you’re selling honey that comes from the airport itself,” Dr. Niño said, travelers are likely to become “more aware of issues with honey.”


O'Hare's apiary


(Not to mention their goats, sheep, burros, llama, and vertical farm.)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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