urban beekeeping, city beekeeping, urban bees
AP/Mike Groll
An urban beekeeper works in her yard in Albany, N.Y. Large cities like Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco are promoting beekeeping for pollination health, to keep city
vegetation green and lush.

Urban Beekeeping Is Illegal in NYC, But Growing in Popularity Nationwide

June 03, 2009 10:30 AM
by Haley A. Lovett
Illegal beehive owners in New York hope the city will follow the example of the White House and other cities and legalize the practice of beekeeping for honey, to help the declining bee population.

New York City Bill Introduced to Legalize Urban Beekeeping

It has been illegal to keep bees as pets in New York City since 1999, when they were classified by the Department of Health as venomous insects. But recently, with the announcement in March that the Obamas will keep a beehive at the White House, beekeeping seems to have found a second wind.

According to the New York Daily News, many New Yorkers have had beehives since before the city ban—some can be found in community gardens, others on rooftops throughout the city. It was the already-present beekeeping community that encouraged councilman David Yassky to introduce a bill that would allow beekeepers to keep bees if they are licensed.

After the introduction of the bill, beekeeping saw another surge in popularity. National Geographic reports that NYC beekeeping classes filled quickly this spring, some students were even willing to brave bee allergies to learn the practice.

Bees, which help pollinate plants and can produce honey fit “perfectly into the small food manufacturing sector,” Yassky told the New York Daily News, and with cities such as Detroit seeing an increase in urban farming, bees could become a necessity to keep crops pollinated within city limits.

Background: Ferrets and other illegal or exotic city pets

Included in the 1999 New York City ban on pets were poisonous snakes, ferrets and elephants. And while laws vary across the country with regard to what pets are allowable, New York has held strong to its ban, and, as reported by The New York Times, the Bloomberg administration upheld the ban on ferrets when it was brought to court by ferret lovers in 2002. Ferrets are allowable as a pet in other areas of the state.

Considerations by cities when determining if an exotic pet will be allowed within a city include potential harm to humans (through poison or attack from the animal), the potential of the species breeding in the area and overtaking natural populations, and the health and safety of the animal itself. Doctors warn that parents of young children (especially those under five) should consult a pediatrician or veterinarian before obtaining a nontraditional pet, as exotic pets such as rodents, reptiles and monkeys can spread disease to humans

Related Topic: Bees Vital for Humans But Mysteriously Dying

England has recently started plans to help save its dwindling bee population. Reports found that up to one third of U.K. food production is dependent on the bee population. Plans to help protect the population include creating safe zones (without farming) so that bees can avoid pesticides while pollinating the plants.

Colony Collapse Disorder, when bees mysteriously abandon their hives, has led to the mass dying-out of bees over the last decade. In the United States it is thought that more than one third of the bee population has been lost since 2007.

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