It's been hard for me to sever ties with the city completely, even with all of the work that needs doing at the farm. My hive in Greenpoint is still kicking so it needs to be checked in on regularly. This means an hour drive into Brooklyn with some frequency. Frankly, I should have moved it to Seven Arrows by now but it's a big job and I'm still not entirely sure which method I'm going to use to pack it up. Beehives are heavy things and cumbersome, especially when they have to be lowered through a small hatch in the roof, carried down a steep ladder and two flights of stairs in an occupied building. In any case, it needs to move and I plan on doing it this weekend.
Another thing is pulling me back to the city, and that's the Brooklyn Grange Beekeeper's Training Program which I am co-teaching with Grange's head beekeeper, Chase Emmons. BG invited me to participate in creating a program that can be replicated year after year, one where serious wanna-bees can come and learn an entire season of beekeeping from procuring bees, maintaining them, harvesting honey and other products of the hive and marketing them to the public. The goal is to facilitate the creation of other career beekeepers like Chase and myself.
The group is small, about eight trainees total. What the group lacks in size though it makes up for in spirit. My pal Mark Negley, who has a bee business in Florida, was up delivering some of his overwintered PA nucs to us and he noted how impressed he was with the trainees 'go get 'em' attitude and iron work ethic. Many of them had never worked with bees before, but sat through my 8-hour recorded bee class to bone up on the basics.
Once Mark and I arrived at Brooklyn Navy Yard, the site of Brooklyn Grange's apiary, with the bees, we began to unload. Our soon-to-bee beekeepers gently carried the rickety nucs up the stairs to their new home, sat them aside their colorfully painted hives. The plan had been to let the nucs sit for a few days to settle down before transferring them, but everyone was so eager to get into those hives that we made a decision together to just do it and get those bees snug in their homes, stings be damned!
But few stings actually came. We demoed one introduction, and after we closed the full frames of brood and bees in their spacious hive it was game on! The gang was ready to give handling bees a try on their own. Chase, Mark and I gave some pointers to the group and one-by-one, they each lit their smoker, puffed the bees, opened the nucs and moved the frames gingerly to their new homes. Bees we're flying everywhere, but not a single jittery human was to be found on that Brooklyn rooftop.
My friend Alex Brown, who worked with me on my forthcoming book The Rooftop Beekeeper: A Scrappy Guide to Keeping Urban Honeybees, was there documenting the day. Here are some of the highlights!
I'm incredibly proud of this team and I cannot wait to share more of the adventures we have this summer!
©2013 Alex Brown