Urban Bees

In this TED talk Noah Wilson-Rich discusses urban honeybees. And how they seem to be doing better in the city than out on the farm.

It may be preaching to the choir if you’re a beekeeper, especially if you are already an urban beekeeper. But that’s just what I’ve found.

Until this year, my beekeeping was centered  in agricultural areas. This year I kept my bees near the city. And unlike my decades old experience with near city beekeeping, these bees are doing great.

  • greater variety of pollen
  • pollen dearths infrequent
  • fewer pesticides
  • long sustained honeyflow

It’s true that:

  • fewer hives can be kept in a single location
  • the temperament of the bees is paramount
  • stealth is important to keep curious people away
  • water sources must be managed

But overall, my bees have had fewer problems here than out where the cows roam.

I suspect that somehow the situation for urban versus agricultural beekeeping has reversed itself. And I suspect that:

  • increased monoculture
  • acute water management
  • frequent weed control
  • and accumulated pesticides and agri-chemical residues

are largely responsible for the switch.

I’m abandoning my decades old local migration into and out of the ag areas. And I’ll just run a few more yards, with fewer hives per yard, near town.

Now doesn’t that just figure! And after switching from top bar hives to conventional equipment to facilitate moving them, they’re staying put.

Isn’t that’s just like beekeeping. Always full of surprises. 🙂


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One response to “Urban Bees”

  1. Andres says:

    Yep, this matches my anecdotal data. I’ve kept bees on farms and near cities, and they did awful (I suspect due to mosquito spraying, but I’ll never know for sure). Bees kept in my backyard in the city, however, do wonderfully. As you said, a great variety of pollen, and I suspect that the longer honey flow is due to the city’s many microclimates. That 5 story reflective building does a wonderful job of keeping blackberries warm on the southern side (enabling early blooms) and cold on the northern side (enabling later blooms). In a forest canopy or a monoculture farm, bees need to fly much further before they reach a different microclimate; in the city, they need only fly 10 feet before there’s something completely new.

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