Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

The Honey Bee makes the world go round – without them flora would die and all other life would quickly follow. And bees have done their job for a very long time.

For perspective Homo sapiens (probably you) reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago (according to Wiki). And that is just an average since many Homo sapiens remain noticeably un-evolved even to this day.

Bees on the other had are over 100 million years old. That is 2,000 times older than humans. If the bee life on this planet was shown as sixty minutes on a clock (3,600 seconds) then human existence would be shown as less than TWO SECONDS.

That is why for me Bees are exalted. I have a bee hive on my roof and I just let them bee, uh, I mean be. I haven’t removed any honey for years. They are my rooftop sentinels helping to keep the neighborhood more in harmony.

Eco Brooklyn Green Roof and Bee Hive

Our Eco Brooklyn Green Roof and Bee Hive are part of the web we aim to strengthen with out New York green contracting.

As a New York green builder I feel keeping bees is part of the matrix. Ecological native gardens, green roofs, living walls, ponds, natural swimming pools, gray water, composting, building with salvaged materials and bees – these are the things that make the world go ’round. They are all connected.

This brings me to the reason for this post. I think we can’t have too many bees in the world and the more people who keet them the better. It is not about the honey. We have too much sugar in our died and despite the amazing benefits of honey it is still sugar. It is about helping the keepers of life do their job. God knows we work against them in every other way, arrogant overcomsumers that Homo sapiens are.

So check it out. There are lots of beekeeping networks, some formal some not. For example you could take this cool course:



How Our Soul Connects to the Earth

I spent the day in the Eco Brooklyn garden with seven interns today hauling salvaged blue stone around and working on the natural swimming pool. Typically we are working around the pool so they have their shoes off.

Adding the final touches to the natural swimming pool

But today I had them wear shoes to protect them from the heavy stones they were hauling.

I know the garden very well and can navigate the many native plants and stones with my eyes closed. For the most part the interns have been pretty good at where they put their bare feet as well, even if it is more to protect their virgin feet than to protect the garden.

But today they were like a herd of elephants. Carried away with their work, they forgot what was beneath their shoes. And asking them to be more aware didn’t lessen the damage.

Considering they were so intelligent in other areas I expected a much higher level of awareness from them and I found myself getting frustrated. And it wasn’t like they didn’t care or had physical disabilities. These college level athletes were mortified when I pointed out the damage their feet were doing.

It made me think about intelligence in general and how different societies value different things. In mainstream North America intelligence is measured in college test exams. In the Jungles of the Amazon intelligence is measured in whether you step on a snake or not.

But more importantly I had this profound realization that these seven intelligent college grads had spent the vast majority of their lives walking on dead materials – concrete, tile, car carpet, varnished wood – with shoes. They were completely illiterate when it comes to talking to the alive earth with their feet.

99% of the time they don’t need to be aware of where they are stepping. They have to navigate dead objects like getting out of a car, running on a track or walking up stairs but these things are all standardized – hard, flat, lifeless – so the process requires minimal awareness. The worst that can happen is they step in dog crap and never do they worry about killing anything.

The Eco Brooklyn back yard, however, is full of life and far from standard. There are little piles of stones to be toppled, plants of all sizes to be trampled, snails and bugs to be crushed, and all sorts of other life forms like mushrooms, moss, lichen, and berries that a Nike shoe easily kills.

Bees from the roof drinking water from moss in the Eco Brooklyn show house pond.

This lack of connection between our feet and the soil is powerful. I saw these kids with great intentions slowly trampling their surroundings and it brought up in me much more emotions than what was at hand. It reminded me of the many times I see environmental destruction due to a lack of awareness of and connection with the earth.

People are good. But disconnect them from their surroundings and they become killer monkeys.

This was a real learning experience for me as I work with them as a mentor. I have extra wide feet because I spent most of my summers as a boy barefoot. I remember crying from the pain of trying to put my feet into shoes at the end of summer for school. Maybe this gives me good connection between my feet and the soil. It isn’t much compared with so many people on this planet who live closely with nature but in NYC’s concrete jungle I’m an exception.

It drove home in me that more important than understanding the ecology of a natural pool or eco garden is having the awareness of where we step, both physically and metaphorically. An awareness of ourselves as we move on this planet and impact other life forms is the height of environmentalism. This has been a valuable lessen for me both in my own life and in my teaching.

International Center of Photography Pics

Last week students from the International Center of Photography came by to photograph the show house green roof and back garden. Here is what they came up with.

Our Favorite:


As green roof installers we are particularly in love with the green roof on the show house. It is where we do a lot of experimentation to see what works on NY green roof installations.


As New York green roof installers we are particularly interested in creating roof top sanctuaries not only for humans but for native animals. This birds nest is part of that process of turning a bleak roof into a home.

New York Natural Swimming Pool

From the green roof you can see the back garden which is under construction. It has all native plants arranged in a native hardscape. It also has a natural swimming pool that will be cleaned by plants and stones.

 Eco Brooklyn NY green roof service is doing well and we are now expanding to provide natural swimming pool construction services for New York residents with small back yards. We feel this is a great thing that adds to the ecosystem and quality of life. Our first one is being built in the Eco Brooklyn green show house. We are making all the mistakes we can to perfect the process.

The natural pool is common in Europe but Americans are still stuck on keeping nature and humans apart, and this applies to chlorinated pools as much as it does to other things. But as we learn that nature (bugs, microbes, dirt) actually can help keep us healthy it makes a lot of sense to swim in a natural swimming pool.

With time we hope more and more people will see that chlorinated pools are actually lass sanitary that natural swimming pools due to the connections between chlorine and health issues like cancer, rashes and breathing disorders.


A Photo Update of the Eco Brooklyn Roof Garden

Eco Brooklyn’s green roof garden has been flourishing since we installed it over two years ago. Check out the photos below!

NY Green Roof installers

Native Plant Green Roof Installation

This roof garden relies solely on rainwater so we never have to waste water!

Eco Brooklyn Green Roof Garden Installers

Our bees act as natural pollinators, ensuring beautiful flower blossoms for seasons to come! Not to mention they provide us with tasty honey.

Green Roof Landscaping

Can you believe this self-sustaining oasis could exist on the roof of a New York City apartment? As a NY green contracting company, Eco Brooklyn can make it possible for you to have one of your own!

Brooklyn Green Roof

Here are some spring photos from the Eco Brooklyn Green Show House roof. It is two years old now. We don’t water it. We just let it do its own thing. The soil has thinned out and is only about 2.5″ thick. But we have bushes and plants along with a thick canopy of sedum. It is very pretty.

The bee hive is also buzzing. It is so productive that last season we left them the honey. We still have lots of honey from the year before!

Native Plant Green Roof Installer

Most New York green roof installers look towards Europe for green roof plant varieties. Europe has the largest green roof industry and has spent many years testing different plants.

Typically a New York green roof installer will specify a selection of  sedum native to the high mountains and wild places across Europe, including the Balkan Mountains and the Carpathians.

Sedum are a mostly succulent low laying plant that  like the bright sun and dry conditions of green roofs. Sedum can be found all over the world where rugged, well drained conditions exist.

They are often called stonecrop because they like to grow in the cracks of stones.

As a New York green contractor I too looked towards Europe for information on how to build the perfect Gotham green roof.

Eco Brooklyn is an ecological landscape designer and as such only designs and plants New York gardens with native species. The green roof has been our one exception, the original presumption being that there are not enough native plants to make an interesting green roof landscape. Or at least we didn’t know enough to try.

But as my experience and confidence expanded I started to research native species of sedum. I did a lot of testing on the Eco Brooklyn Green Show House roof. Some plants survived, others didn’t. What I learned is that the typical sedum suggestions for a shallow (extensive) New York green roof is extremely limited.

This is when we realized the opportunity to become a Green Roof Installer specializing in native plant green roofs.

For example we currently have three thriving Butterfly plants on the Eco Brooklyn Show House roof. In three inches of soil! Without watering them!

Butterfly plants on Eco Brooklyn's Show House green roof

Or how about our lambs ear, which is also a NY native. It is very happy on the Show House green roof.

Native Plant Lambs Ear is a good choice for New York green roofs

Another cool New York native is the Eastern Prickly Pear cactus, the only native cactus in northeast North America. It loves being on our roof, although you may not love it once it’s spines get into your skin. They are painful! I hear their fruit is good, although I have not braved the spines.

The Eastern Prickly Pear loves sandy dry soil, so a green roof is great for them.

And for those who don’t know, there are actually over 50 sedum native to North America. The only places in North America that do NOT have a native sedum are the far North of Canada and North Dakota! Not sure why. Even Greenland and Alaska have sedum.

Those 50 or so sedum fall into 18 genera. Here is the full North America genera list from the USDA web site:

Scientific Name
Common Name
AEONI Aeonium Webb & Bethel. aeonium
COTYL Cotyledon L. pig’s ear
CRASS Crassula L. pygmyweed
DIAMO Diamorpha Nutt. diamorpha
DUDLE Dudleya Britton & Rose dudleya
ECHEV Echeveria DC. echeveria
GRAPT Graptopetalum Rose leatherpetal
HYLOT Hylotelephium H. Ohba stonecrop
JOVIB Jovibarba Opiz jovibarba
KALAN Kalanchoe Adans. widow’s-thrill
LENOP Lenophyllum Rose lenophyllum
PENTH Penthorum L. penthorum
PHEDI Phedimus Raf.
RHODI Rhodiola L. stonecrop
SEDEL Sedella Britton & Rose mock stonecrop
SEDUM Sedum L. stonecrop
SEMPE Sempervivum L. houseleek
VILLA Villadia Rose villadia

Check out this cool map showing all sedum in the USA.

We have a nice little Sedum Glaucophyllum (aka Cliff Stonecrop) in the Show House back yard. It is very happy perched amoung some stones.

Although actually native to Maryland and Virginia we deemed it acceptable to use it in our Brooklyn native garden.

Based on our experimentation and research we feel confident enough to plant green roofs in New York with only native plants. This is groundbreaking and merges two very important ecological traditions – green roof installations and native habitat creation.

A native habitat at the top of the concrete jungle offers protection and rest for animals in a very special way distinct from the more crowded lower gardens. Native plant green roof installations are crucial in building a city that offers homes for more than rats, pigeons and people.

If you have a roof you would like to turn green or know of somebody who does please give us a call! We are New York green roof installers specializing in native plant wildlife habitats and feel the more we are able to build the better the world will be!

Eco Brooklyn’s Eco Garden

Eco Brooklyn’s show house is now home to a beautiful new landscape which has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.  Nestled among many homes in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NY this garden provides a home for a wide variety of  shrubs and perennials that have invited in a number of different pollinators.

Planted with all native species, the garden is thriving and teeming with life. Honey bees have been spotted coming down from the roof to visit the new garden. The butterflies flutter from garden to garden and take their time to enjoy some nectar before moving on.  Other beneficial insects, including some ichneumon wasps, have also been spotted buzzing around the garden. They help to keep the detrimental invasive species of insects at bay.

A small pond and meandering stream also occupy the site giving it a place for birds to bathe, fish to swim and the relaxing, harmonious sound of moving water that completes the desired effect of being in a natural setting.

Busy Bees

Check out this picture of our Eco Brooklyn Green Show House bee hive. We left some space in the hive and the bees filled it up with their own combs. The precision and symmetry they build the comb is really beautiful.

Brooklyn Green Roof Blooming

As a New York green roof installer I have a special affection for my own green roof. Check it out after all these summer rains. It is bursting with life. I threw a couple handfuls of Native North East wildflower seeds a couple years ago and now the roof overflows with sunflowers both big and small.

This green roof installation really shows a different green roof from your typical low laying sedum roof that resembles more a desertscape. It looks more tropical than anything. But if you pick the right native plants for the mini ecoregion of your particular roof then you can expand the kinds of flora you have on a green roof.






Green Roof Installation with two bee hives


The back of the green roof has more cactus type plants






There are over thirty verities of sunflowers native to the region





The green roof has a lot of herbs. You name it, they are there.




Mint is a very happy plant on a green roof, mostly because mint grows pretty much anywhere


I always forget about the surrounding neighborhood. It is a nice view.


Save the Bees

This is taken from Worth reading and acting on.

Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don’t just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.
Scientists increasingly blame one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these products. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to join the ban — their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

We have no time to lose — the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about our survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it on to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:

Bees are vital to life on earth — every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no oils and no cotton.

Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations — some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But new leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.

This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s “highly toxic” product is a “major risk concern to non target insects [honey bees]”.

We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts — the beekeepers and farmers — want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let’s support them now. Sign the petition below, then forward this email:

We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on.

With hope,

Alex, Alice, Iain, David and all at Avaaz


Bee decline could be down to chemical cocktail interfering with brains

Bee briefing

$15 Billion Bee Murder Mystery Deepens

“Nicotine Bees” Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

EPA memo reveals concern that pesticide causes bee deaths

Beekeepers want government to pull pesticide

British Beekeepers’ Association to stop endorsing bee-killing pesticides

Pesticide industry involvement in EU risk assessment puts survival of bees at stake

Red Honey and the Perils of Urban Farming

This summer all the bee hives around Red Hook had really red honey. Our hives in Carroll Gardens are just a stone’s throw away and also glowed with red. Here is an example:


Work on the street was that the bees had found a maraschino cherry factory. And it turns out the word was true, as uncovered by a NY times article on the same.

The red came from the food coloring No 40. Makes me wonder what other toxins they are ingesting and putting into the honey for us to eat… the toxic cloud of our world is very strange.

Green Roof Benefits and Facts

Here is an interesting PDF giving key facts about green roofs. The most interesting thing is a study they did comparing an R18 insulated roof with a non-insulated green roof. The green roof was a lot cooler in the summer. They also give costs and life assessment numbers. Very interesting.

Read the green Roof PDF here

One of the things Brooklyn brownstone owners ask us is the effect of a green roof on their heating and cooling. We suggest installing a green roof with insulation under it. This way the insulation adds to the heating benefits in the winter and the green roof adds to the cooling benefits in the summer. You get the best of both.

A green roof doesn’t do much in the winter to help a brownstone keep warmer. It does help break the wind and during windy times the heating benefits of a green roof do exist. But overall a green roof in the winter is closer to a block of ice than insulation – think wet earth.

But in the summer a green roof is very helpful. When you wet your skin with water the wet area feels cooler. That is because the water is evaporating and taking your body heat with it. Plants give off water from their pores in the exact same way. This keeps them cool and in turn keeps your roof cool.

As Brooklyn green roof specialists we try to combine the green roof installation with an integrated approach. So we look at more than the plants on the roof. We like to incorporate a gray water system for example. So when people shower and use the sink the water is passed to the roof. This eliminates watering and allows you to have a more exotic green roof. We also find that bees are a nice addition to a green roof. The plants and bees have a beneficial relationship.


This green roof is fed by gray water and can handle very tall plants like the sunflowers above that are being misted with gray water. The roof also has a bee hive.

Brooklyn Bee Maintenance

We checked on some of our hives today a week after putting them into new hives. They were doing great. In their productive enthusiasm they had built comb in a place where it would cause spacing problems so we had to take it out.

Both hives had excess comb we had to remove. One was larger than the other:



We took the comb out and placed it in front of the hive so the bees would easily crawl back into the hive (below).



Once they had all left the extra comb we gave the comb to our daughter to chew on! Bees wax with syrup is like chewing gum!


We checked out the bees on the comb and they were already well on their way to packing their newly made comb with flower pollen and nectar (see the brown combs below). How the hell do they make the honey comb so perfect?? As a green builder this fascinates me. The perfection of those combs mesmerize me. It makes our building look so crude. And to think they build an environment the equivalent size of one city block in a week! With their own spit! It puts us to shame.


The bees looked nice and healthy:




And check out the queen! The apiary that raised her put a  blue dot on her back to easily recognize her. She was so busy moving around from comb to comb laying eggs! She was always surrounded by helper bees who gave her space and cared for her:


Once we had checked all was good we filled the hive up with lots of sugar water to help them get up and running:


Register Your Brooklyn Bees

When NYC legalized bees a little while ago the one stipulation they asked was that bee keepers register their bees. There is no way I’m doing that! I have 40,000 bees. Do you have any idea how long it would take me to register them?!


But I might register my hives. Or I might not 🙂

But if you are a Brooklyn bee keeper and want to be a good citizen here is how you register your hive:

NYC Health Code Article 161 (the recent health code change that has made beekeeping legal in NYC) requires persons keeping non-aggressive honeybees (Apis mellifera) to file a notice with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene containing the beekeeper’s contact information and hive location(s).

Get the form here:

It’s important that we cooperate with these minimal reporting regulations in order to maintain the legal status of beekeeping in NYC and ensure that our beekeeping practices respect the rights and safety of others.

To find your block/lot # (as required on the form), use this tool:

Thanks all, and here’s to a fun, healthy and productive beekeeping season!

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A Bee (or two) Lands in Brooklyn

We just got our bees for the Brooklyn Green Show House! They arrived late at night and we put them in their hives (hived them) at the crack of dawn. We put the hives on the green roof so the bees can help pollinate our strawberries!

First we put the stands made of salvaged wood:


Then we put the hive parts:


Meanwhile the two packets of bees were waiting by the side. Here is one:



First we took out the queen and her little helpers. They are in a small box closed off with sweet stuff. We take the box and put it in the hive. Over a day or two the bees will eat through the sweet stuff and release her into her new hive. The queen and her helpers:



We put the queen’s box into the hive:


Then we take the bees and dump them in the hive!:



And that’s it! We will let the new hive chill for a week or so before checking in on them to make sure all is well.

IMG00859-20100427-1604 (1).jpg


It is so special to be able to keep bees in Brooklyn. We really feel good about the whole process. Bees are a cornerstone of the planet’s wellbeing. They help form the foundation from which everything else grows. To be allowed to help them do their job is a real gift. We are honored to have bees on the show house roof.

As Brooklyn green builders and contractors we feel that green building is so much more than salvaged two by fours and low VOC paint. Being a green builder is literally about building a green environment. Green building is less about assembling inanimate objects like in normal building. Green building is about working with the biosphere so that it all grows together – bees, plants, people, houses….The Brooklyn brownstone is no longer just bricks and sheet rock. It is a living organism that needs to be carefully assembled so that it grows food, fresh air, happy people and animals.

So yes bees are a very important part of this symbiosis.

Megan Paska from Brooklyn Honey is giving us advice on the bee keeping process. She is very knowledgeable. We got the bees with the help of Andrew Coté who runs Silvermine Apiary as well as Bees Without Borders. Thanks guys!

Plants Attractive to Native Bees

Now that beekeeping is legal in NYC we are going to have a lot more bees! And that is a good thing. Here is a list of plants that bees like. If you ask me the list has pretty much all the plants in the world, but I didn’t make the list (USDA did) and I’m sure they know what they are talking about (at least here, I wouldn’t trust the USDA on many other food issues but that’s not something I want to bother the bees with).

So plant these in your gardens so that the bees can feel welcome in their new home!

Sorted By Genus

Blue plant names are widely cultivated & broadly attractive to bees.

Caprifoliaceae Abelia abelia
Fabaceae Acacia acacia
Aceraceae Acer maple
Asteraceae Achillea yarrow A. millefolium weedy
Ranunculaceae Aconitum monkshood
Lamiaceae Agastache hyssop
Lamiaceae Ajuga carpet bugle
Malvaceae Althea hollyhock not doubled
Liliaceae Allium allium
Rosaceae Amelanchier serviceberry
Boraginaceae Anchusa wild forget-me-not
Apiaceae Anethum dill
Ranunculaceae Aquilegia columbine not doubled
Ericaceae Arctostaphylos manzanita
Papaveraceae Argemone prickly poppy
Plumbaginaceae Armeria sea thrift
Asteraceae Aster aster not doubled
Fabaceae Astragalus locoweed
Asteraceae Baileya desert marigold
Fabaceae Baptisia false indigo
Berberidaceae Berberis barberry
Boraginaceae Borago borage
Brassicaceae Brassica mustard B. kaber and B. nigra weedy
Lamiaceae Calamintha calamint
Malvaceae Callirhoe wine cups, poppy mallow
Ericaceae Calluna heather
Onagraceae Camissonia camissonia
Campanulaceae Campanula bell flower
Fabaceae Caragena Siberian peashrub
Aizoaceae Carpobrotus ice plant some weedy
Asteraceae Carthamnus safflower
Lamiaceae Caryopteris blue mist spirea
Fabaceae Cassia senna
Rhamnaceae Ceanothus buckbrush
Asteraceae Centaurea bachelor’s button, corn flower not doubled, some weedy
Caryophyllaceae Cerastium snow-in-summer avoid chickweeds
Fabaceae Cercidium palo verde
Fabaceae Cercis redbud
Rosaceae Cercocarpus mountain mahogany
Rosaceae Chaenomeles flowering quince
Bignoniaceae Chilopsis desert willow
Asteraceae Chrysanthemum chrysanthemum simple flowered
Asteraceae Chrysothamnus rabbit brush, chamisa
Cucurbitaceae Citrullus watermelon
Rutaceae Citrus grapefruit, orange, lemon
Fabaceae Coronilla crownvetch
Cucurbitaceae Cucurbita squash, gourd, pumpkin
Onagraceae Clarkia clarkia not doubled
Asteraceae Cosmos cosmos
Apiaceae Coriandrum coriander
Asteraceae Coreopsis coreopsis
Lythraceae Cuphea false heather C. hyssopifolia
Rosaceae Cydonia fruiting quince
Asteraceae Cynara artichoke, cardoon
Boraginaceae Cynoglossum comfrey
Apiaceae Daucus carrot some weedy
Ranunculaceae Delphinium larkspur not doubled
Scrophulariaceae Digitalis foxglove
Asteraceae Echinacea cone flower
Boraginaceae Echium pride of Madeira E. fastuosum
Asteraceae Erigeron fleabane
Hydrophyllaceae Eriodictyon yerba santa
Polygonaceae Eriogonum wild buckwheat
Apiaceae Eryngium eryngo, button-celery, coyote-thistle
Brassicaceae Erysimum wallflower
Asteraceae Eupatorium joe pye weed not E. capillifolium
Euphorbiaceae Euphorbia spurge some weedy
Cactaceae Ferocactus barrel cactus
Apiaceae Foeniculum fennel F. vulgare
Rosaceae Fragaria strawberry
Sterculiaceae Fremontodendron flannelbush
Asteraceae Gaillardia blanket flower not doubled
Onagraceae Gaura gaura
Gentianaceae Gentiana blue gentian
Asteraceae Geraea desert sunflower
Rosaceae Geum avens
Polemoniaceae Gilia gilia blue or violet
Fabaceae Glycyrrhiza licorice
Asteraceae Grindelia gumweed
Boraginaceae Hackelia wild formet-me-not
Lamiaceae Hedeoma sweetscent, mock pennyroyal
Fabaceae Hedysarum sweet vetch, french honeysuckle
Asteraceae Helenium sneezeweed
Asteraceae Helianthella sunflower
Asteraceae Helianthus sunflower not doubled
Boraginaceae Heliotropium heliotrope
Malvaceae Hibiscus rose-of-sharon, hollyhock not doubled
Asteraceae Hieracium hawkweed
Rosaceae Holodiscus cliff spirea, mountainspray
Asteraceae Hymenopappus false cosmos
Asteraceae Hymenoxys alpine sunflower
Lamiaceae Hyptis desert lavendar
Aquifoliaceae Ilex holly
Malvaceae Iliamna mountain hollyhock
Zygophyllaceae Kallstroemia Arizona poppy
Scrophulariaceae Keckiella bush penstemon
Lamiaceae Lamium dead nettles incl. Lamiastrum
Zygophyllaceae Larrea creosote bush
Fabaceae Lathyrus everlasting pea
Lamiaceae Lavendula lavendar
Asteraceae Layia tidytips
Fabaceae Lespedeza bush clover esp. L. cuneata
Brassicaceae Lesquerella bladderpod
Asteraceae Liatris blazing star
Limnanthaceae Limnanthes meadowfoam, fried egg flower
Polemoniaceae Linanthus mountain phlox
Scrophulariaceae Linaria toadflax L. dalmatica & vulgaris weedy
Linaceae Linum flax
Fabaceae Lotus birdsfoot trefoil, lotus
Solanaceae Lycium wolfberry
Berberidaceae Mahonia mahonia
Rosaceae Malus apple
Malvaceae Malva mallow
Fabaceae Medicago alfalfa, medic
Fabaceae Melilotus sweet clover can be weedy
Lamiaceae Mentha mint
Loasaceae Mentzelia blazing star
Boraginaceae Mertensia bluebells
Scrophulariaceae Mimulus monkey flower
Lamiaceae Monarda bee balm not red
Myoporaceae Myoporum myoporum M. laetum
Hydrophyllaceae Nemophila blue eyes
Lamiaceae Nepeta catmint esp. hybrid N. x faassenii
Lamiaceae Ocimum basil
Onagraceae Oenothera evening primrose
Cactaceae Opuntia pear cactus
Lamiaceae Origanum oregano
Ericaceae Oxydendrum sourwood
Fabaceae Oxytropis locoweed
Fabaceae Parkinsonia Mexican palo verde
Scrophulariaceae Pedicularis lousewort
Scrophulariaceae Penstemon penstemon not red, consider P. strictus
Lamiaceae Perovskia Russian sage, filigran P. atriplicifolia
Fabaceae Petalostemon prairie clover
Hydrophyllaceae Phacelia bluebells, scorpionweed
Ericaceae Phyllodoce mountain-heath
Solanaceae Physalis groundcherry
Rosaceae Physocarpus ninebark
Lamiaceae Physostegia obedient plant
Ericaceae Pieris fetterbush
Papaveraceae Platystemon creamcups
Polemoneaceae Polemonium Jacob’s ladder
Pontederiaceae Pontederia pickerelweed
Fabaceae Prosopis mesquite
Lamiaceae Prunella henbit
Rosaceae Prunus cherry, plum not doubled
Fabaceae Psorothamnus dalea
Rosaceae Purshia cliff rose
Lamiaceae Pycnanthemum mountain mint
Brassicaceae Raphanus mustard
Asteraceae Ratibida Mexican hat
Rhamnaceae Rhamnus buckthorn
Anacardiaceae Rhus sumac
Grossulariaceae Ribes currant
Fabaceae Robinia black locust
Papaveraceae Romneya Matilija poppy
Rosaceae Rosa rugosa-type and wild roses not doubled, some weedy
Lamiaceae Rosmarinus rosemary
Rosaceae Rubus raspberry, blackberry, brambles some weedy
Asteraceae Rudbeckia black-eyed susan
Salicaceae Salix willow not weeping willow
Lamiaceae Salvia salvia blue or violet
Caprifoliaceae Sambucus elderberry
Dipsaceae Scabiosa pincushion flower not doubled
Crassulaceae Sedum sedum, stonecrop
Asteraceae Senecio senecio
Malvaceae Sidalcea checkermallow
Asteraceae Silybum milk thistle
Solanaceae Solanum nightshade some weedy
Asteraceae Solidago goldenrod
Malvaceae Sphaeralcea globemallow
Rosaceae Spiraea spiraea
Lamiaceae Stachys lamb’s ear
Brassicaceae Stanleya prince’s plume
Boraginaceae Sympytum comfrey can be weedy
Portulacaceae Talinum flame flower
Apiaceae Tanacetum tansy
Bignoniaceae Tecoma yellow trumpet bush
Lamiaceae Teucrium germander
Fabaceae Thermopsis false lupine, golden pea
Lamiaceae Thymus thyme
Tiliaceae Tilia basswood
Asteraceae Tithonia Mexican sunflower
Lamiaceae Trichostema bluecurls
Fabaceae Trifolium clover
Ericaceae Vaccinium blueberry, cranberry, huckleberry acid soils required
Valerianaceae Valeriana valerian
Verbenaceae Verbena verbena not red
Asteraceae Verbesina golden crownbeard
Scrophulariaceae Veronica speedwell, veronica
Caprifoliaceae Viburnum arrowood, snowball bush
Fabaceae Vicia vetch
Asteraceae Viguiera showy golden-eye
Violaceae Viola violets not pansies
Asteraceae Wyethia mules ear
Asteraceae Zinnia zinnia not doubled

Bees Legal In NYC

I copied this from my email. Worth reading and writing.

let us beeThis is the moment that supporters of legalizing beekeeping in NYC have been waiting for. The Department of Health is proposing changes to it’s Health Code that would once again make honey beekeeping legal in NYC!

Between now and Wednesday, February 3rd, you have the opportunity to lend your voice in support of lifting the beekeeping ban. The Department of Health is accepting both oral and written testimony on their proposed changes (see proposed text below) to Article 161, the section of the Health Code that addresses all “Animal” issues, including bees.

Every voice is important! This proposal by the Department of Health, which would make honey beekeeping legal in NYC, is only happening because you signed the petition, mobilized signatures, contributed research, wrote articles, designed web and print materials, attended or helped to organize the Beekeeper’s Ball, Hidden Hives Tour, Honey Fest, New York Nectar and City Hall Rally during NYC Pollinator Week. Make sure you lend your voice in support of lifting the beekeeping ban in NYC at this vital moment in our campaign!

Give oral testimony: The Department of Health is convening a Public Hearing on Article 161 on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 from 10am-12pm at the 3rd Floor Boardroom (Room 330), 125 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013.

The Public Hearing is an opportunity for friend and foe of legalized beekeeping to voice their views on the Department of Health’s proposed revision to the code.

If you would like to speak at the Public Hearing, it is recommended you pre-register by contacting Rena Bryant, Secretary to the Board of Health via phone (212.788.5010) or snail mail (125 Worth Street CN-31, NY, NY 10013) by 5pm on Tuesday, February 2, 2010. Be sure to include your full name and phone number. Speakers will be allowed to speak for 5 minutes or less.

Submit written testimony: If you cannot attend the Public Hearing but want to lend your voice in support of the Department of Health’s proposal, you should send your written comments on the proposal (1-2 pages maximum) to Rena Bryant via fax (212.788.4315) email or online between now and 5pm on Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

What then?: After the Public Hearing, the Department of Health will consider all oral and written comments and then present their final proposal for the code’s revision to the Board of Health meeting in March, for their final review. With Board of Health approval of this revision, the revised code will take effect in 30 days. Beekeeping could be legal in NYC this April!

Resources: Below, please find the revised text to the bee code that the Department of Health is proposing, which your testimony should respond to, as well as some tips for giving public testimony.

For any questions, please contact Nadia. Please let us know if you plan to attend the Public Hearing, and feel free to share your written testimony with us…we’d love to hear what you have to say!

Click here for updates and background on Just Food’s NYC Beekeeping Legalization Campaign.

honeybee Department of Health proposed text amendment to bee code!

Beekeeping is currently illegal in NYC due to the text in Health Code Article 161.01 that prohibits the possession, keeping, harboring and selling of “wild animals,” including:

“All venomous insects, including, but not limited to, bee, hornet and wasp” outlaws beekeeping.”

The Department of Health is now moving forward to make honey beekeeping legal in NYC!

The following is the revised text that the Department of Health is proposing, which would lift the ban on honey beekeeping, and which you should be responding to in your oral or written testimony:

“All venomous insects, including, but not limited to, bees other than non-aggressive honey bees (Apis mellifera), hornet and wasp. Persons keeping honey bees shall file a notice with the Department, on a form provided or approved by the Department, containing the beekeeper’s name, address, telephone, email and fax numbers, emergency contact information, and location of the hive, and they shall notify the Department within ten business days of any changes to such information. Beekeepers shall adhere to appropriate beekeeping practices including maintaining bee colonies in moveable-frame hives that are kept in sound and usable condition; providing a constant and adequate water source; locating hives so that the movement of bees does not become an animal nuisance, as defined in 161.02 of this Article; and shall be able to respond immediately to control bee swarms and to remediate nuisance conditions.”

The beekeeping section of the animal nuisance definition referred to above and outlined in Article 161.02 reads:

“A beekeeping nuisance shall mean conditions that include, but not be limited to, aggressive or objectionable bee behaviors, hive placement or bee movement that interferes with pedestrian traffic or persons residing on or adjacent to the hive premises; and overcrowded, deceased or abandoned hives.”

Click here to read the full Notice of Intention to Amend Article 161 of the NYC Health Code.

beekeeper Tips for giving public testimony at the bee code hearing

Whether you’re a seasoned public speaker or a newbee, it’s crucial that you ensure the Department of Health hears your voice on the proposed changes to Article 161 that would lift the beekeeping ban. Here are a few tips for you to consider when preparing your oral and written testimony:
  • Prepare your comments in advance in writing. Outline the main points you want to convey, and build your remarks from there.
  • State who you are, and who you represent if applicable.
  • Address the specific language proposed by the Department of Health (see text above). If you support the entire proposal, say this and why. If you would like to see some of the proposal revised, come with specific language  changes you would wish to see and describe why you think your revision is important.
  • Practice speaking your remarks in advance of the Hearing. If you practice in front of a mirror or a small audience, you’ll become more comfortable at the Hearing and also be certain your remarks are within the 5 minute limit.
  • Bring 15 printed copies of your remarks to the Hearing, in case someone requests them after you testify.
  • Be brief and clear.
  • Be respectful and professional.
  • Thank the Department and Board of Health for their time and attention to this issue.

Thank you for all you do in advocating for healthier food, farms and communities in New York!

Warm wishes,
Nadia Johnson and Matt Chan
Food Justice Program, Just Food

Permaculture, Pigs and Bees

Here is a cool insight into nature. It is by Michael Pollan. He also talks about the Polyface Farm which is run by “grass farmer” Joel Salatin. Joel is interviewed a lot in the Food Inc Movie. Check out the talk below, follow the links above. All very cool stuff.

Not directly connected to green contractors in Brooklyn but indirectly very much so. We can do this stuff in Brooklyn in our own language and with out own circumstances.

Green Window Cover

Here is a cool window shade made out of a box and semi wild plants. It shows how we can put plants in a lot more places that the hyper manicured garden. Window sills, ledges, above doors, on walls, as fences….plants can be part of our building structure just as we use other materials to create space.

Brooklyn brownstones have such great nooks and crannies where we can put local plants that need no maintenance. It just takes a little prep to create the soil container so that the humidity does not seep into the building. The results are added protection from the weather, more places for birds, bees and other animals to live, improved air, and more beauty.

Needless to say we are big fans of creatively adding flora to a Brownstone environment and it is a large part of our focus. We call ourselves “installers of garden heroics”, because hanging off the side of a brownstone to put soil and plants on a ledge isn’t exactly your normal gardener’s cup of tea. But we love it. It is a great mix of performance art, landscape art and environmental activism.

One of our favorite type of plant to install is any kind of cascading ground cover that becomes a living waterfall falling over the side of the planter.

green sill in Brooklyn

Beekeeping Becoming Legalized in NYC

Keeping bees is currently illegal in NIC because they accidentally fell under a venomous animal law way back when.

The good news is that the law is very close to being overturned. Our city comptroller hopeful David Yassky actually has been very influential in that process. So I hope you all voted for him.

Here is a useful campaign letter you can fill out to help legalize bees. It is a worthwhile effort since bees are the neurons of nature.

Eco Brooklyn is very into bees and will gladly install a bee hive to any client who wants one either on their roof or in their back yard. Despite it being illegal. We call it civil disobedience. And beside we don’t know anyone who has been fined. It is one of those laws everyone knows is outdated.

Legalize Bees in NYC

Bees are technically classified as a venomous insect and thus illegal by New York law. Stupid but true. Help legalize beekeeping by signing this petition.

Here is some info on Bees, taken from

Question: What do cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, Paris, San Francisco,
Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver have that NYC does not?
Answer: Legalized beekeeping.
Bee keeping is currently illegal in New York City. The New York City Health Code under
Section 161.01 prohibits the possession, keeping, harboring and selling of “wild animals.” This
ban, in it’s listing of “all venomous insects” includes and in doing so outlaws bees.
Honeybees are garden heroes! Honeybees help gardens grow more fruit and vegetables and
produce sweet honey. They are nature’s best pollinators and contribute to productive harvests
in community gardens, public parks and nature centers.
This fact sheet highlights the many benefits of honeybees, outlines legal beekeeping initiatives
in other cities, addresses questions about the dangers of honeybees, and proposes that the
New York City Department of Health amend its code, and thereby lifts its ban on beekeeping.
Beekeeping Benefits Public, Economic and Environmental Health
• Local Food Production: Honeybees are pollinators and pollination is essential to
maintaining and increasing the productivity of NYC’s community gardens, botanical
gardens and public parks.
• Small Business/Economic Development: One colony of bees can yield anywhere
between 30-150 pounds of honey, as well as honeycomb, beeswax, pollen and royal jelly
for sale. With a retail value of at least $10-$12 per pound, honey sales can contribute
significantly to a beekeeper’s supplemental income. Beekeeper cities such as San
Francisco, Savannah and Chicago are forming small business enterprises that feature
honey along with value-added products (lotions, balms, soaps).
• Job/Youth Training: Beekeeping programs across the country provide job skills and
training to youth and the unemployed in production, sales, marketing and management.
• Education: Beekeeping provides a rare opportunity for urban school children to connect
with how and where food is produced. The United States Department of Agriculture and
North American Pollinator Protection Campaign have a curriculum to teach children the
importance of pollinators.
• Health/Nutrition: Pollination is critical to the success of agricultural crops grown in NYC’s
600+ community gardens and urban farms, which create increased access to healthy
produce in many of the City’s low resource neighborhoods. Honey gives energy, is antibacterial
and rich in vitamins and minerals, many of which are antioxidants that help
prevent cancer, heart disease, and strokes. Additionally, local honey contains small
amounts of pollen from local plants, and has helped individuals build immunity to these
pollens and aid in alleviating allergies.
• Biodiversity: As pollinators, honeybees contribute to the production of fruits, vegetables,
and seeds. In turn, they further contribute to the health and biodiversity of an urban
environment by providing a food source for birds and other insects.
• Increased safety: Beekeeping is happening in NYC and is permitted by the State Apiary
Policy. There is already an inspector assigned to monitor hives in NYC. Legalization will
increase registration and inspection with the New York Department of Agriculture and
Markets and allow for the open adoption of widely used guidelines for beekeeping.
Beekeeping Success in Other Cities
Many cities permit and regulate urban beekeeping and have found that urban apiculture can
benefit human, economic, and environmental health. In Chicago, the City Hall and Chicago
Cultural Center has six well-kept hives on their rooftops as an element of their City’s
aggressive greening initiative. Value-added products from these hives are sold at local
markets and national chains such as Whole Foods, and they have created an employment
program which uses urban beekeeping to create jobs for low-income residents and formerly
incarcerated individuals to teach job skills in production, sales, management and marketing.
San Francisco has included beekeeping in public spaces as part of its “Plan for a Sustainable
City,” and has set a goal of five percent of all city honey consumption be produced in San
Stings are the most common concern about honeybees. However, honeybees are not
aggressive by nature and are unlikely to sting. Only 0.4% of Americans report an allergy to
insect stings in the U.S., and relatively few of these are caused by honeybees. In addition, less
than 1% of the US population is at risk of systemic reaction to stings by honeybees. Severe
reactions from the sting of any one insect in a year are 1 in 5,555,556. The chance that
someone will be hit by a car is 59.3% higher.
Honeybees in Crisis
The survival of honeybees is currently at risk. In the winter 2006-2007, an average colony loss
of 38% was reported by U.S. beekeepers. Many of these losses were linked to Colony
Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has become such a serious issue that Senate passed the
Pollinator Habitat Protection Act of 2007, which was co-sponsored by Senator Clinton and
designates pollinator protection as a “national priority resource concern.” The Pollinator
Protection Act of 2007 also stresses the important role that pollinators, especially honeybees,
play in pollinating many important U.S. crops. Communities around the country need to be a
part of the solution and encourage apiculture to mitigate the spread of CCD, including New
York City!
A Proposal for Change
In order to improve the health and well-being of our urban environment and populace, Just
Food proposes that honeybees be removed or exempted from Health Code 161.01.
Just Food, with experience organizing communities around food production in NYC, is
prepared to implement an urban beekeeping program which will include training, guidelines
for beekeeping and the provision of emergency sting kits. We will provide resources,
educational materials and will help beekeepers to take advantage of the free hive
registration and inspection process that already exists with the state Department of
Agriculture and Markets. Just Food will support community gardens and institutions that have
expressed a desire to keep bees, promote safe and responsible beekeeping practices, and
encourage the development of profitable and beneficial beekeeping operations throughout

Legal Farm Animals in NY, but not Bees

You are allowed to keep chickens and any sort of hoofed animal in Brooklyn or New York City. Hoofed, as in donkey, goat, sheep….and chickens. Not roosters, but if you want fresh eggs from your back yard or roof top chickens that is totally legal.

BUT you are not allowed to legally keep bees. Sure people do it and I don’t know of any beekeepers spending jail time for dealing in home made honey, but it is illegal. WTF?!