Along with backyard chicken-keeping, urban beekeeping is another exercise in countrified self-sufficiency that has really picked up steam over the past couple of years and been embraced by city dwellers … the latest “urban agricultural must-have,” as the New York Times put it back in 2009.
The whole bees-in-the-city movement reached an unofficial climax back in March when the ban on residential beekeeping was lifted in New York City (although NYC beekeepers had been practicing and celebrating it quite openly for some time) which showed aspiring apiarists that if you can do it legally on a rooftop in Manhattan, you can do it anywhere. Other cities that allow residents to keep bees include Denver, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Santa Monica. And for a list of cities and towns where beekeeping was still banned as of August 2010, check out The Daily Green’s map of No Buzz Cities.
For many beginning beekeepers, the numero uno concern, aside from the appropriate apparel, is where to house your new buddies. In this past, I’ve featured two cool, city- and suburban backyard-friendly options for seasonal bee boarders: Jason Neufield’s Bombus Shelter and Johannes Paul’s Beehaus. Today, I'm taking a look at Beepods, personal wooden hives that have gotten a fair amount of buzz (sorry, couldn't resist) around the green blogosphere over the past few days.
What sets Beepods apart from other hives is the design. When most of us think of human-kept hives we think of Langstroth hives — you know, the vertical, stacking ones. Turns out, these hives are designed specifically for high honey yields without taking into consideration the comfort of its residents. Beepods follow a top-bar design that produces less honey (upwards of 40 pounds versus upwards of 200 pounds per season) but along with optimum bee happiness is “designed for fun, education and backyard pollination.” After all, what casual beekeeper who isn’t in it for the $$$ needs 200-plus pounds of honey?
Want to know more? Head on over to the Beepods homepage where you can read more about these mighty handsome, made-in-Wisconsin hives. And if you’re in the Milwaukee area, the site is great localized resource with an events page and a community forum. There's also a blog for all-around apiary info. Oh, and the cost for a complete, easy-to-assemble (no nails, drills, saws, or glue required) Beepod kit? It will set you back $450.