Beekeepers’ honey-making plan ruined by Sandy

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A million bees living on the banks of the East River met a horrible end on Oct. 29 when Hurricane Sandy tore their hives apart.

The insects were part of a honey-making plan by the urban farmers at the Brooklyn Grange, who maintained 25 hives — each containing about 40,000 bees — on Pier K at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

It was the biggest apiary city — but its waterfront location was right in the path of Sandy’s devastating storm surge.

“All our hives that were out on the pier were destroyed,” said Chase Emmons, a managing partner and the chief beekeeper at Brooklyn Grange.

An additional 10 hives located on Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop farm survived — but the loss is catastrophic for the honey producers.

Emmons knew his hives were at risk before the storm struck, but relocating such a huge quantity of stinging insects is no small task.

“There was little we could do without a Herculean effort,” he said.

What’s most heartbreaking for Emmons is the fact that all of the lost hives had been donated last year by a retired Pennsylvania beekeeper who bred extra-hearty bees with stellar genetics.

“The biggest loss is to our selective breeding genetic program. Our plan is to end up with bees that are well suited to the New York environment,” said Emmons. “This puts us back at least a year.”

But Emmons is confident that the Brooklyn Grange’s bee program will be up and running again next summer.

“Live and learn,” said Emmons, who noted that Brooklyn Grange workers will soon assess the equipment and see what they can salvage. “You’ve got to come back stronger.”

Updated 5:36 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jane from Red Hook says:
A Uhaul would have worked. 25 hives fit in a Uhaul easily. That was just negligence to leave those hives on the pier. What a waste.
Oct. 31, 2012, 1:30 pm
ty from pps says:
Nice Jane. I'm sure you're perfect... I bet if they'd asked you, you would have gone running to help move the hives, right?
Oct. 31, 2012, 2:09 pm
Liam O. from Gravesend says:
Hey, maybe this is a sign... as in, "Hey, you asinine urban-pioneer wanna-be hipster, next time setup your bee apiary out in the country where it belongs, and not next to the East River!!"

Seriously... what is it with you people? Why are you so incredibly starved for attention? Here's a bitter pill of some tough love: you're not special just because you're trying to play some zany, urban version of Old McDonald. You will nit be "discovered" as an urban farmer (or as anything else if note). You will eventually have to accept that you're not destined to be the world-reknowned "Farmer-Poet of Brooklyn". You will never create a multi-million-dollar franchise of urban beekeeping farms. You will eventually learn that you're very likely destined for a normal, average job, making normal, average money, and living in a normal, average neighborhood -- maybe Scarsdale or Nassau County, since you and your faux-bohemian gentrifying ilk have now priced North Brooklyn off the map. Nobody wants your non-viable business model in this city; go back to your flyover state of origin if you want to farm.

I do feel badly for the bees... but not the clearly narcissistic, irrational persons who took care of them.
Oct. 31, 2012, 4:16 pm
Bornandraised from LES says:
@Liam, oh great, another tinyP from diehipster. God we wish your kind would get the F out of our city. Yea, we, as in the real native New Yorkers. The ones who welcome diversity and economic growth. The ones who own the buildings your kind rent in, and happily raise that rent when the market allows. The ones who understand and embrace the American Dream and free market system. Don't let the doorknob hit you in the A on the way out.
Oct. 31, 2012, 10:56 pm
Patty from Cake says:
Are the bees dead?
Nov. 1, 2012, 1:47 am
Liam O. from Gravesend says:
@Bornandraised - Diversity? Seriously? What's diverse about a bunch of privileged white kids who all dress alike, all talk alike, all insist on all living in Williamsburg / Greenpoint / Bushwick, all pretend to be poor, and all have the same ideas of untenable business models that are more about blogging and Instagramming than revenue? Diversity is great... but you won't find it in any of the above ZIP codes. Want to see diversity? Go to Queens, where you'll find lots of East Carribbeans, Africans, Asians and more.

As for economic growth, that's also good... when the business is viable, and won't simply create a vacuum of an empty storefront in 6-9 months. A bodega is a legitimate business model. An "artisanal mayonnaise" store is not.

As for the ad hominem about "your kind" owning the buildings "my kind" rents from... since you're talking out of your rectum on that one, I'll just chuckle softly and chalk it up to ignorance on your part.
Nov. 1, 2012, 1:52 am
Karen from Arlington VA says:
What a great project!! Sorry to hear of your loss, but bees are remarkable. Wishing you perseverance as you recover from this loss. This is a noble and wonderful apiary. I cannot fathom why so many previous comments are hostile.
Nov. 1, 2012, 7:26 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Not a good couple of months for the "Brooklyn Grunge". This is the same bunch of smug doche-nozzles that are raising the chickens that lay eggs with a massively high lead content because the live on roofs in the City. If you want to play farmer-in-the-dell why not stay back home in Weasel Taint? Where is you "sustainable" roof top veggies now that November has come? Can't wait for the first rood collapse so FDNY can shut you down like the danger you are. Thanks for the laughs Mrs and Mrs Green Jeans
Nov. 1, 2012, 7:28 am
Sarah from East NY says:
SwampYankee you are completely wrong about that. I interned with them earlier in the summer. They have a few chickens on their roof, not the ground, and they're just for kids groups that come on tours. Get your facts straight if your going to hate. Or try not hating in the first place.

Liam what does any of that have to do with a rooftop farm? A couple of the people who own it were born in the city, but why does that even matter? I came here for college and my parents support me while I'm here. Does that make me a bad person?
Nov. 1, 2012, 7:53 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Please go to their website and look at their press videos. There is a smug little Meghan, picking up eggs from under chickens and putting them in egg cartons. I guess this is to put them in the trash. Check YOUR facts!
As for you other question: You are a self described parentally funded staycationer here on an urban adventure. You also work as an unpaid intern at something that will provide zero life skills and just seems zany, quirky and kewell. I don't know if you are a bad person. You are certainly a hipster.
Nov. 1, 2012, 8:19 am
Liam O. from Gravesend says:
@ Sarah - there's nothing wrong with bee apiaries, or organic farming; in fact, I have clients who are well-respected organic farmers. The difference is, they're farming in Lancaster County, PA, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland... WHERE THE APPROPRIATE SOIL AND CROPLAND IS! This large-scale urban beekeeping, rooftop vegetable garden and livestock-in-the-city nonsense has nothing to do with farming, and everything to do with "LOOK AT MEEEEE!!!! I'm doing a rural task in an urban environment! Aren't I cutting-edge, zany, and super-smart??!!"

There are a ton of Asian, Hispanic and European families in the five boroughs who grow their own little gardens, and even have a few animals; the difference is they're for household use, the owners have the discipline to keep up with it on a regular basis, and they're not blogging about them every day. The problem with urban hipster farming is that, as soon as this trend jumps the shark and some other authentic hobby comes along that they can bastardize and try to claim as their own, all of these gardens and animals will be abandoned. They're not farmers... they're cultural cannibals.
Nov. 1, 2012, 11:20 am
Liam O. from Gravesend says:
@ Jackie - Oh, if only we *could* make it "none of our business". But of course, being a hipster hobby, urban farming like this *is purposefully intended* to affect average New Yorkers each and every day: from bees escaping the apiary, to the smell of livestock excrement, to unsafe buildings caused by urban "farmers" who didn't do any research to see if their chosen structures can handle 4" if topsoil on the roof. The very reason this kind of urban farming exists is so that normal people will be *forced* to see it, react to it, and (if the perpetrators had their way), provide glowing, positive reinforcement that they are cool, smart, eco-friendly, etc. It doesn't matter if they're farming, making "artisanal" products, starting quirky (and non-viable) retail businesses, or playing in some ——ty, tone-deaf and ball-less band... as long as they're doing it in Brooklyn, thereby forcing everyone's attention upon themselves.

You want farming to "not be any of my business"? Gladly... as soon as these asshats start farming on farmland, and not in the middle of densely-packed urban landscapes.
Nov. 1, 2012, 11:48 am
ty from pps says:
Liam -- Are you as pathetic and sad in person as you sound here?
Nov. 1, 2012, 12:06 pm
Johnrott from Wash hts says:
Liam you are absolutely insane, and an embarrassment to all New Yorkers. If you disagree, be a man and put your face to your words on YouTube. But you won't because you are a pathetic little ——. Get out of my city, now.
Nov. 1, 2012, 5:30 pm
Johnrott from Wash hts says:
That word would be T w A t.
Nov. 1, 2012, 5:31 pm
mark from riverdale bx says:
lol @ all the hipster butt-hurt!!
Nov. 1, 2012, 7:40 pm
John in VA says:
Just 25 hives........ what a waste the storm was broadcast for days that it was coming.. Take entrance reducers turn them to block the entrance completely strap the hives together load the in a truck.

Really herculean.... the person donating the hives THOUGHT you would take care of them..... nothing like a bee-haver.

I hope you saved at least a couple of thse queens... or ar you just wallowing in self-pitty....

Nov. 18, 2012, 7:58 am
April from California says:
We lost 1/2 our hives this year. When I told my old-timer mentor that we had a rough learning curve. He laughed and siad not to expect it to get any better. Sorry for your loss and glad your still kicking.
Feb. 20, 2013, 2 am
Alex from Kangaroo Point says:
A most accurate depiction of the hipster hobby lifestyle. Your mother must be proud!
June 3, 2013, 3:42 am

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