Thursday, November 1, 2012


I hate to start the blog back up with bad news, but I guess that is just the way things are going to work.

As many of you have heard, 17 hives from the Brooklyn Grange Beekeeping Apprenticeship, which I co-founded with Chase Emmons and the financial/logistical backing of the Brooklyn Grange, were destroyed Monday night/Tuesday morning by Sandy's 14 foot storm surge.

While the hives survived the first high tide, they were not so lucky the second time, and most, if not all, were swept away by the rising water. While some of the woodenware was recovered and may be salvageable, essentially all the comb was contaminated/ruined and the bees were drowned.

Drowned brood. The bees probably drowned trying to protect it, but were swept away when the hive broke apart.

scha·den·freu·de - noun, \ˈshä-dən-ˌfrȯi-də\:
enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others
see: yellow-jackets

Drowned bees just don't have the same charm as the living ones.

A survivor.

Trying to keep warm and protect the hive to the very end.

All my favourite hives were swept away. If anyone finds a very nicely built top-bar hive, or a piece of wood with a Shaolin-style Winnie-the-Pooh, please drop me a line.

On a higher note, the hives my girlfriend and I maintain in Fort Greene seem to have survived with nary a scratch. The survivor I found at the Navy Yard came with me into the car where I warmed her up and fed her some fresh honey that hadn't been contaminated with polluted salt water. When I was checking on the hives that survived, I popped her right in. With a full belly of honey, she'll be welcomed into the hive, and maybe even be of some use.


Verizon product placement. Ignore the last one. That's Sprint.

So where do we go from here?

I don't know, or at least I'm not sure yet.

A lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of love went into maintaing those hives over the last several months, both on my part and those of my amazing beekeeping apprentices. They grew in experience and knowledge just as the hives grew in population and production; watching them do so was a humbling experience for me. Seeing their hard work washed away overnight is incredibly sad and incredibly frustrating.

There were as many bees in those hives as there are people in Staten Island; almost half a million (down from an estimated 1 million in the summer, when hive populations are larger.) Obviously bees as individuals have nowhere near the intrinsic value of even the meanest human (debatable?), but the loss of so much life (and potential for life) so senselessly is a horridly heavy burden and I cannot help but wonder if it might have been avoided.

P.S. I posted the video to the Apprenticeship page on Facebook already, but it still makes me laugh.

Apropos, no?

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to see such losses.

    Next time, don't be shy about calling upon the wider urban beekeeping community for help.

    We had more than enough space, and could have easily moved those hives to one of our larger apiaries during the week before the storm when we moved other hives.

    jim fischer