The Buzz About Urban Bees
Here's what one New York City newspaper said about creating small urban farms in unused lots:
"The first of these five farms was started just ten years ago by Mrs. Henry Parsons in what is now De Witt Clinton Park. At that time it might have been described as the sink of Hell’s Kitchen. It was an open waste place at Fifty-fourth street and Twelfth avenue. While not attractive to anyone else it was the cherished haunt of a local gang known as the ‘Sons of Rest,’ from their partiality to a life of glorious leisure unbroken except by thieving and trips to jail. When the police heard there was going to be a garden on that vacant plot they got ready for extra trouble."
That headline is from 1912.
We seem to be living through a wonderful (re-)greening of American cities. I don't want to paint too rosy a picture. If we don't get a handle on climate change, all the wonderful urban chicken flocks and rooftop gardens and backyard beehives we talk about on these shows are going to fry like pork rinds. But I'm heartened by the 2012 vision of the city, which is not so much new as very old. In 1850 and 1900, a city was more commonly understood as a place that might have contained a lot of vegetable gardens and chicken coops and, yes, bees.
One of the odd benefits of colony collapse disorder has been an urgent appreciation of the importance of bees. It turns out Einstein never said the words commonly attributed to him: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live."
But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of truth to that statement.