Backyard gardeners in Bergen Beach are buzzing with excitement, having sighted at least three very active honeybee hives in the neighborhood, which means more fruits and vegetables for them come harvest time.
As the primary pollinators of 80% of flowering plants, including more than 130 types of fruits and vegetables, the tremendous importance of bees can hardly be overstated. The very future of humanity is inextricably linked to the survival of bees, but with their populations declining drastically (an estimated 89%) in recent years, the effects upon agriculture and the food supply worldwide have many experts very concerned. While much of the decline has been attributed to factors beyond our control, such as extreme weather conditions, deforestation and invasive species of parasitic mites and beetles, beekeeping has been recognized as one of the best ways humans can help bee populations grow.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees bee hives in Brooklyn, registered 326 hives in 2020 alone (the same year it was legalized), which some Bergen Beach residents have credited for the significant increase in the bees they have seen in their neighborhood. Not everyone is thrilled to see more bees in the area, however, like Brenda, who lives near what she describes as a very active hive located in a tree hollow. “I have to go the other way now when I walk my dogs,” she said, after she was warned of the situation by her postman. “I’m very allergic, so I don’t want to get stung,” she explained. Her boyfriend Adrian said, rather flippantly, that he didn’t care about the hive or bees in general, because “bees don’t bother you, unless you bother them.”
Another neighbor reported that she saw beekeepers in suits smoking the hive months ago, and some Orkin exterminators some weeks ago on a ladder, reaching into the hole, but that the bees have yet to vacate the premises. “I’m glad they stuck around,” she said. “I grow zucchini in my yard and without the bees and the butterflies, I would have to hand-pollinate, which is a headache.”
Love them or hate them, it would seem that bees are coming to back Brooklyn and intend to stay.