New York City bans the maintaining of animals that are "wild, ferocious, fierce, dangerous or naturally inclined to do harm". Which means unfortunately your Komodo dragon will not pass muster at your upcoming co-op review. But then neither will your back-to-nature, peace-loving bee hive. Beekeeping in the 5 boroughs is against the law, so if still sweating after your next Critical Mass bike ride, you are looking for a few more law breaking endorphins, think about beekeeping. Dozens of NYC bee outlaws keep hives on rooftops and in backyard gardens. You can buy urban hipster honey at the Union Square farmers market, but don't strike up a conversation about your hive lifestyle with Mike Bloomberg next time you see him on the subway, unless you want to get sent to the big house. Well, not really, but it sounds so much better than getting fined...
Honey bees get a bad rap. They are actually hard-working stiffs who live only to collect pollen and get on home to momma queen where they whip it up into a frothy honey stew; it is actually the wasp that is the vicious hunter of the bee world, who's out looking to rumble. New York City honey bees are partaking of the city's bushes and trees, along with flowers sitting curbside and on fire escapes. As a result urban honey tends to be sweeter than country honey, and could be just what the natural doctor orders when it comes to a spoonful a day to keep the allergies at bay. Eating honey during allergy season is a form of immuno-therapy to give your body a small dose of what ails it, to jump start its defenses and fight off the nasty ill effects of sneezing and runny nose. If you are an allergic city dweller, honey from Sullivan County doesn't have the necessary urban mix of tree and flower pollen, so perhaps a medicinal waiver is what we need to overcome the ban on bees. First medical marijuana, now medical bee hives.
Just food is a local non profit already in pursuit of bee justice. This New York City group, dedicated to fostering new markets and food growing opportunities for regional, rural family farms, and community gardeners in New York is offering an internship to develop legal strategies to expand beekeeping abilities in the Big Apple. In addition, check out their websight for information on local Community Supported Agriculture openings. CSA's offer a personal relationship with a specific farm whereby members buy seasonal shares of a farm's produce. This pre-investment insures the famer's bank account can safely support the erratic needs of a regional farm, while delivering members weekly produce or other farmed amenities like beef, flowers or sheep's wool. See these sights for more connections to local farms in New York and New Jersey.
Imagining I would like to live the Green Acres life style, while still living in the city, last Fall I bought into an upstate farm at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rheinebeck, NY. Sort of like Save the Children without any children, I am paying for partial upkeep of my very own black Border Leicester sheep named Buddy. Come this summer his wool will be cleaned, carded and spun to my 'tweedy' needs and I will be receiving a package of New York State grown yarn. I am proud to relate, as the step-mom of a teenage ram, he is staying away from drugs, likes to listen to Avarus on his iPod and has sex regularly.
A subject near and dear to my heart: bird calls, is cross pollinating with another subject near and dear to my heart: the art world. Artist Nina Katchadourian is creating a bird call installation as part of the gallery exhibitions series at Wave Hill in the Boogie Down Bronx, NYC. Through a series of human voice recordings of transliterated bird calls, projected through solar powered speakers posted in trees, the Wave Hill visitor will be transplanted to a magical land of avian controlled White House, Congress and Judiciary, (ooh whoops, that's my installation idea). Actually Nina's project is meant to draw attention to the local and migrating bird population ever present in our city lives. Audubon naturalists will lead workshops on May 7 and May 14, at 9 AM, giving you the lowdown on what bird is sleeping with whom, and why birds feel the need to chirp so damn early, especially on the morning when you need the most recuperative sleep.
Suggested soundtrack: Honey and the Bees: Come get it (Streaming Real Audio)
For real live book reading, I would suggest A BOOK OF BEES by Sue Hubbell. A lovely, very pastoral nature memoir take on raising bees in Missouri.