Kirsten Dirksen and the gang at faircompanies recently detoured from their favorite topic — tiny and nontraditional housing — for a chat with urban beekeeper Guillermo Fernandez. A member of NYC Beekeeping, Fernandez has been tending to the at-risk insects since before the city lifted the longstanding ban on the activity in the spring of 2010. When that happened, membership within the organization jumped from a paltry 325 to over 1,300 amateur and seasoned apiarists.
In the below video, faircompanies dons a helmet and veil for a visit to Fernandez’s Battery Park hive located in a public garden near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal (Fernandez himself lives in a not-too-bee-friendly 21-story high-rise apartment building) to talk broods, drones, workers, guards, queens, (his has been dubbed “Queen Bee-trix” in a nod to NYC's Dutch roots), and the history of European honeybees — referred to by Native Americans as the “white man’s fly” — in North America. Fernandez also discussed the impact that colony collapse disorder has had on nature’s most prolific pollinators.
“They’re not a pet that you can pet and cuddle, but I feel close to them and like I should take care of them because they’re also taking care of us,” says Fernandez. “There’s a source of pride when you see your bees flying out just a few feet and pollinating the plants nearby and you know that there’s this interrelationship between the bees and the plants, humans and nature, and the city and its population.”
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