Beekeeping has been a burgeoning trend in cities across the country, and especially in Philadelphia. And, unlike many metropolitan areas, it's actually legal to keep bees in the city.
Although firm numbers are hard to nail down, beehives have been popping up all over the city in community gardens, urban farms and even rooftops. And, the local beekeeping organization — The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild — boasts 87 members and will likely grow in the future.
Last weekend was Philadelphia's second annual Honey Festival, which drew crowds from all corners of the city. The Philadelphia Beekeeper's Guild partnered with three venues — Wyck Historic House and Garden, The Wagner Free Institute of Science and Bartram's Garden — to present the festival to educate anyone interested in learning more about apiaries.
It would almost be strange if beekeeping weren't legal in Philadelphia, given that the Father of American Beekeeping — Lorenzo Langstroth — was born in the City of Brotherly Love. He also created the modern beehive, commonly called the Langstroth hive.
In Philadelphia, the only requirement for beekeeping is that an apiary (which can be just one hive) be registered with the state's Department of Agriculture. Registration runs only $10, no matter how many hives a beekeeper has. Registration allows state inspectors to come out and regularly check to make sure hives are healthy.
And according to the Beekeepers Guild, the flora in Philadelphia provide good pollen gathering for urban bees. While many first-year beekeepers may not harvest any honey during their first year, some new Philadelphia beekeepers have harvested up to 50 pounds of honey their first year.
So, why would someone want to become a beekeeper? While most people get into beekeeping for the sweet rewards, others do it because of how important bees are to a sustainable society. If we want fruit and vegetables, we need bees to pollinate. And, the sustainability of refined sugar is quite questionable. The only processing raw honey gets is done by the bees.