What’s Abuzz in the Family Garden?
Ed. Note: The beekeeping craze that’s sweeping New York City isn’t just for rooftops in Brooklyn! Annie Novak, Assistant Manager of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, was kind enough to explain her most recent adventure giving bees a home at the NYBG.
We installed the beehives on top of our garden shed space, so the bees have a clear flight path over the Garden site. As the hives’ populations grow, so do our vegetables. Thanks to the bees, we have higher rates of fruiting on our apple trees and pepper plants.
The bees spend the first part of the spring season building up wax combs to lay eggs in, as well as store honey later in the year. As the Family Garden grows, and the cherries and lilacs just outside the Family Garden bloom, we start to see our bees venture further afield. They’ll fly up to five miles from the hive to gather nectar and pollen, but with a campus as lush as the New York Botanical Garden, they don’t have to go that far to get food.
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Honeybees are amazing. In addition to acting as pollinators for our crops, alongside visiting butterflies and garden ants, we get a wonderful honey harvest every fall with flavors drawn uniquely from the Botanical Garden’s nectar. We leave some honey for the bees to eat all winter, and share the rest in jars at our annual staff winter holiday party—a sweet thank you for all the hard work and volunteer hours our green thumbs contribute! It’s great to have the opportunity to teach our students and visitors about this friendly, intelligent insect.