“The Rise of the City Bee—How Urbanites Built the 21st-Century Apiculture”

When most of us think of beekeeping we imagine a rural landscape; perhaps a sprawling meadow filled with wildflowers and the wooden box beehives peppered within. However, Claire Cameron’s piece entitled The Rise of the City Bee- How Urbanites Built the 21st-Century Apiculture paints a different picture of modern apiculture – one with an urban landscape.

Cameron tells the story of Noah-Wilson-Rich, a graduate student from Tufts who ran out of research funding in 2009. To raise funds for his research Noah took the entrepreneurial route and started a Boston-based business, Best Bees, where he traded apiary construction and upkeep for research funds. Fast-forward to the present, where Best Bees is now involved in hundreds of hives within the major cities of the United States. The United States is not the only country to have an “urban renaissance in apiculture” either, with urban beekeeping on the rise in cities across several continents. This rise in beekeeping has been attributed to general concern for dwindling honey bee numbers (recall  colony collapse disorder which was highly publicized in the mid 2000’s to 2010’s), the relative ease of starting a beehive, and the “back to nature” movement we have seen develop in recent years.

In fact, many urban beekeepers believe that urban spaces offer a more healthy and safe setting for beehives; as some research has shown that urban green spaces offer more in terms of an assortment of forage for the bees and a lower chance of exposure to agricultural pesticides. For instance, a 2013 study suggested that bees which had a more diverse pollen diet had stronger immune responses. A study done by Wilson-Rich himself showed that his hives in Boston had honey created from 411 plant species; while his hives in the more rural areas of Massachusetts contained only 83 plant species. On the other hand, study sites in Washington, DC and the Boston metro area still showed the presence of common pesticides on their urban bees. Evidence of the positive benefits of high diversity of forage urban settings give to bees keeps on mounting- and that is a good thing.

Link to article:

The Rise of the City Bee—How Urbanites Built the 21st-Century Apiculture