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S.F. Plays Host to Millions of Bees 

Wednesday, Aug 17 2011

San Francisco is a gold mine — not for the precious metal, though. We're talking about honey. Since the 2007 media furor over mysterious honeybee deaths, when alarming numbers of North American honeybee colonies suffered collapse, urban beekeeping has taken off. In San Francisco today, there are an estimated 200 to 300 beekeepers, which means several million bees are buzzing around our city.

And this city is bee paradise. "San Francisco has a great climate for keeping bees, especially in the warmer areas like SOMA and the Mission," says Bryon Waibel, manager of the recently reopened beekeeping store Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper. "But it's still doable in foggy neighborhoods."

Besides the gentle climate, S.F. is blessed with a year-round nectar flow. "There's a concentration of plants in a city landscape that you don't find in the country, where the bees would be in a big field with only one type of crop," explains Priscilla Morris, owner of Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper. "In a city, there's always something in bloom."

In addition, there is no legal hassle — beekeepers don't need permits in San Francisco. While there are no regulations or restrictions on location, Philip Gerrie, owner of Noe Valley Bees, recommends having a deep yard and plenty of garden space, because "the bees tend to drift a bit, and it can be a problem if the adjoining homeowner keeps their windows open."

No kidding.

Morris advises new beekeepers to keep their neighbors well-informed, and use the opportunity to dispel misconceptions about bees. "A few jars of honey don't hurt, too," she says.

For those of us who would rather just enjoy the sweet product, Gerrie recommends getting local honey. "Scientists have done studies on honey from the city versus rural honey, and honey from the city is purer, because nobody uses chemicals on their plants, which is more common in rural and suburban areas."

About The Author

Caroline Chen


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