While in other parts of the world honeybees have been creating a buzz because of their rapid decline, in New York their population has been soaring for the past few years, literally.
In Manhattan, many keep their hives on rooftops, including skyscrapers and office buildings which make for “fantastic apiaries”, according to Coté.
“Tending beehives on top of New York City and other urban areas is nothing new. However, there has been something of a renaissance in the past five to eight years and it has gained great popularity,” he told Reuters on Tuesday (July 26).
Coté tends hives on a dozen of skyscrapers throughout Manhattan, including the ones on the 76th floor of the Residence Inn hotel near Central Park, which at 723 feet (220 meters) is the highest apiary measured from the ground in the world according to management.
Since we have put the hives in two and a half years ago, we have done a fair amount of research, and we haven’t been able to find a hive higher than we are at this point,” explained Timothy McGlinchey Area General Manager of Residence Inn Central Park.
The hotel started the “Broadway Bees” project as part of their green initiative as bees are the main pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruits and vegetables.
The rooftop hosts six hives which totals to about 180,000 honey bees, all in robust condition.
Bee populations are in sharp decline around the world, under attack from a poorly understood phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. One reason is believed to be the bees’ exposure to excessive pesticides and chemicals in rural areas and the lack thereof in New York makes the hives healthy, says Coté.
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The report also found that city-dwelling honey bees are three times less likely to survive than their feral cousins. This raises significant questions about the longer-term outlook for bees as intense urbanisation reduces habitat around the world and urban beekeeping helps to plug the gap.
Researchers from North Carolina State University analysed 15 feral colonies living in trees or buildings without human contact and a further 24 managed by beekeepers in urban, suburban and rural areas in and around the city of Raleigh.