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14 May 2010
A quick recap on NYC beekeeping and the law

In 2005, I got it into my head that I wanted to take up beekeeping, which was illegal in NYC at the time. I reached out to Roger Repohl, who very kindly invited me to come up and help him out with the hives he keeps in the backyard of his church.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to keep bees illicitly, so I set about trying to change the law.

I can’t help but feel giddily proud of this. Just Food ran the campaign since 2008, but it was winter 2005-6 back when I first ran into then City Council Member David Yassky and asked him to work on legalizing beekeeping. He laughed at first, but when I explained the issue in terms of urban agriculture and sustainable food and environmental issues, he took it seriously and started doing his own research. With his help and the combined efforts of a huge group activists, we finally got NYC Health Code Article 161 amended in 2010.

What a wonderful taste of successful activism!

According to the amended NYC Health Code Article 161, beekeepers in the city now have to file a notice with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with their contact information and the location of the hive. Via the NYC Beekeepers Association, here is the form you need to file in order to keep bees legally in NYC.

As for me, I’m now the resident beekeeper up on the roof at East Midwood Jewish Center.