Lately the city has been looking like a nature preserve, but the keeping of bees, even the nonaggressive honey-producing kind, still isn't allowed. That may change though—tomorrow a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene board will consider lifting the bee ban. The potential change is prompted by stats that show NYC bee stings are rare and a petition by beekeepers, who maintain the practice promotes sustainable agriculture. If successful, it will mean that covert rooftop apiarists—who loose the bees to pollinate their plants and also harvest honey from their hives—will finally be in the clear.
For decades bees have been on a list of harmful "wild animals," that includes lions, pit vipers, and crocodiles. According to one source, their were "more than 500" secret beekeepers in the city last year, but if found out they faced steep penalties. “What if somebody, some cop, sees me?” asked one renegade beekeper. “It’d cost me $2,000. It’d really ruin my day.” Even so citations are rare: in 2009, only 13 people were fined for the activity, according to the Times, paying between $200-2,000.
Building an apiary isn't too expensive—one man said he spent $500 on equipment and 20,000 bees—the challenge is finding the space. Experts say hives should be five stories high and bees should be given at least ten feet to fly out, in order to pollinate. In other bee news, "colony collapse disorder" is back, killing off the nation's bees in droves, reports the Washington Post.