Boston’s Best Bees

by Ian Halbert

My fiancée and I have just bought a condo in Watertown, MA. Beyond all the usual excitement surrounding the move into new digs, there are tantalizing prospects for our fairly sizable yard. We have the good fortune to be sharing a condo with a like-minded, locally-focused culinarian, who is as eager as we are to expand the modest garden to accommodate a great deal more vegetables, fruits and herbs.

One prospect for the space that I have been turning over is maintaining an apiary, or bee hive. As many of you may know bees are absolutely essential to the ecology of any area and play a vital role in pollinating many plants and trees. Sadly, bee colonies seem to be dwindling, the victims of a strange and little understood disease called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD):

“The concern is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a term coined in 2006 to describe a dramatic ongoing decline in adult honeybee populations. Researchers are still trying to identify causes (disease, commercial pesticides, and genetically modified crops probably share blame), but what is clear is that the mysterious worldwide trend of dying honeybees could pack a big, smarting ecological sting. While bee-free barbecues might sound appealing, the insects are nature’s primary pollinators of more than 130 crops that contribute an estimated $14.6 billion per year to America’s economy: almonds, apples, cucumbers, avocados, cranberries, and many more staple items are almost entirely dependent on bees for pollination. As honeybee numbers dwindle, our food supplies may do the same, causing consumer costs to soar.”

It would be nice if Mary and I could play a role in counteracting this terrifying trend (as well as harvest some local honey), though others are already fast at work “saving the world … one honey bee at a time.”
Meet Noah Wilson-Rich and his local bee-servicing company. For a fee (a little over $900), Noah will set up, here in downtown Boston and the surrounding areas, hives on area rooftops, patios, back yards and in local community gardens. What’s more, he will maintain and look after them. He was even profiled recently in a local, free weekly that usually tracks what’s hip in food, nightlife and clothes. It’s a healthy trend here in Boston and beyond, and another example of the interdependence of the rural and the urban.
With some focused effort, in the coming generations we will still be awash in honey and the old Mountain ballads will still make sense:

Well, Cindy is my honey
The Sweetest in the South
And when we kiss, the bees
Would all swarm in her mouth