Wednesday I woke up and, despite of the already high temperature outside, I put on my long pants, a T-shirt with long sleeves and closed shoes. I was ready to go and visit the urban bee keeping company Best Bees in Boston with the rest of the students in my Urban Agriculture class.
The Best Bees Company was started in 2010 by Noah Wilson-Rich while he was doing a Ph.D. in Biology at Tufts University in Boston. The purpose of the Best Bees Company is to bring honeybees to the city and create habitats for them. Best Bees Company delivers, installs, and manages honeybee hives for residents and businesses throughout eastern Massachusetts, and currently they have approximately 300 clients (Best Bees, n.d.). All profit goes to research in honeybees and search for a vaccine that might stop the decline in bee populations due to the national colony collapse disorder. According to their slogan, they want to be “Saving the world, one honeybee at a time” (Best Bees, n.d.). The agricultural industry producing fruits and vegetable depend on bees as pollinators and preserving honeybees are important for our future food production.
Later that Wednesday morning I arrived at the Best Bees Company located at Albany Street close to Boston Medical Center. I did not expect the company to be placed in a backyard garage, but a few beehives outside indicated that this was the right place. Inside Jacqueline Beaupré welcomed us in their rustic office, which also served as a meeting room and primitive lab. We all gathered around the table and she told us all about honeybees followed by an eye opening tasting of honeys. I did not know that honey could taste in so many different ways. The taste of honey is depends on the source where honeybees gather nectar. As a beekeeper, you cannot tell the honeybees where to fly, but by placing the beehive in an area with a specific flower, you may have an idea of what ends up in your honey. Placing the beehive close to a field of heather will likely give you heather honey. However, where do the honeybees go to gather nectar in the city? In a city like Boston there are parks, tree avenues, urban gardens and green roofs, and this is sufficient foraging places for the honeybees. In fact, honeybees seem to do better in the city than rural areas. According to Noah Wilson-Rich urban honeybees have a higher chance of surviving in the winter and a higher production of honey (Ted Talk, 2012).
Beekeeping in the city has gained increased interest during the last couple of years due to the local food movement. Beehives does not take up a lot of space and is therefore easier than a garden to incorporate in an urban environment. It can be placed on top of a roof or in a parking lot as it was the case at the Best Bees Company. However, beehives cannot be placed wherever you want because of zoning codes. The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Article 89 on Urban Agriculture establish rules concerning urban agriculture activities including urban beekeeping (Boston Redevelopment Authority, 2013). According to Article 89, the maximum number of beehives allowed in an approved plot for personal use is two. In addition, Article 89 states that the beehives must be placed in order to cause minimum annoyance to the neighbors.
The visit to Best Bees Company made me aware of how important the preservation of bees are to sustainable food production. Their production of delicious honey is certainly also a motivation for protecting and keeping beehives in the future.
Best Bees (n.d.). The Best Bees Company. Accessed 07.30.14 at: <http://www.bestbees.com/>
Boston Redevelopment Authority (2013). Article 89 Urban Agriculture. Avialable at:
Ted Talk (2012). Noah Wilson-Rich: Every city needs healthy honey bees. Accessed 07.30.14 at: