8/1/11

Urban bees doing very well indeed, thank you.

Carla Johnson of AP wrote a very good piece about bees thriving in urban environments:

Membership in beekeeping clubs is skewing younger and growing. The White House garden has beehives. The city of Chicago's hives — nine in all, on rooftops and other government property — are just part of the boom.

"I've seen hives set up on balconies and in very, very small backyards," said Russell Bates, a TV commercial director and co-founder of Backwards Beekeepers, a 3-year-old group that draws up to 100 mostly newcomers to its monthly meetings in Los Angeles.

The group is "backwards" because its members rely on natural, non-chemical beekeeping practices. All their hives are populated by local bees they've captured — or "rescued" as the group's members like to say — from places they're not wanted.

"We don't use mail-order bees," Bates said. "Local bees have adapted to this environment. They're the survivors."

City governments, won over by beekeepers' passion, are easing restrictions. In recent years, New York, Denver, Milwaukee and Santa Monica have made beekeeping legal. The Backwards Beekeepers group is working to legalize beekeeping in Los Angeles.

Amid bee die-off, healthy hives thrive in cities (Carla Johnson, AP)

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