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

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2 comments on “Legalize Bees in NYC
  1. Gennaro Brooks-Church says:

    Thanks for the shout out from across the pond. Bee well.

  2. I am a member of London beekeepers ( U.K ) and live in the middle of London.
    I don’t have bees at the moment but am working on it! For next year, a definite.
    We have plenty of beekeepers in London and although we have had difficulties finding suitable spots in the past, awareness of the huge problems with sudden colony collapse has meant people have heard about beekeeping and are a bit more supportive.
    Just wanted to give support to you in Brooklyn. Good luck with legalise it!

    Best wishes. Corrine Edwards

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