So one tiny secret is my fear of bees. And I don’t mean just keeping away from them. Just like a 5 year old, if I see a bee, I’ll run away and flail my arms, everything you’re not supposed to do. I’ve left conversations awkwardly just because there’s a bee there. I’ve also experienced a bit too many bee stings in my life (5 at one time once), so might have developed a slight allergy to fuel my fear. The last time I got stung, nearly 10 years ago, my elbow was so swollen that even with Benadryl I had trouble bending it for almost a full day.
However my fear of bees is contrasted sharply by my love for honey. Until just two years ago, beekeeping in NYC was illegal. Since then there has been a boom of individual and small commercial beekeepers. I’ve been fortunate to indulge in honey produced at the Narrow’s Botanical Gardens, less than one mile from my apartment! And if you can find Andrew’s Honey at one of NYC’s Greenmarkets (he tends to hop around a bit without notice), you can easily get honey from the High Line, Prospect Park and many other places, identified to the exact blocks.
So needless to say, when I read the NY Times article about the growing bee population due to the mild winter, I was filled with a blend of anxiety and excitement. This year only 21.9 percent of bees died over the summer, compared to the average 30 percent over the past five years. Since beekeeping was made legal in March 2010, nearly 200 hives have been registered with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, however some people have been reluctant to register due to stigma from landlords and neighbors, so the actual hive count is probably closer to 400. The New York State Department of Agriculture estimates 60,000 to 70,000 colonies across the state. More honey, but hopefully not more stings.