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What’s the BUZZ?
Among the urban agriculture food-scape of Boston is a sweet addition. Apiculture – beekeeping – is popping up around the city. From formal business operations to home hives. With bee populations on the decline, and the increasing importance of urban food security, we see that honey production is an important activity to support. And that’s why this July, we set out to talk with local urban apiculturists.
Edwin Medrano is the chief beekeeper at the Seaport Boston Hotel. He is gregarious and attentive, and eager to educate visitors on each step of the honey-making process. His workplace is in an unassuming part of the building, a small alcove on the 4th floor with roof access. With air-ducts, water lines, and other pipes traversing the space above our heads and around Medrano’s work table, it’s incredible to see what he and the Hotel have produced with limited space.
The Seaport Hotel decided to start beekeeping in 2011 as a response to persistent bee colony collapses around the country, and globe. The hives were part of the Seaport Saves program – which integrates responsible management and environmental stewardship into the Hotel’s activities.
Medrano attended a beekeeping program in Boston, and adapted quickly to manage the Seaport’s new hives. Though the Seaport started with only a couple of hives, they have grown to maintain eleven, and generate around 400 pounds of honey in a season.
The honey is used in dishes served at the Hotel’s restaurant, is frequently gifted to guests, and is also available for purchase. The Vermont-based Long Trail brewery recently partnered with the Seaport Hotel to concoct a tasty honey ginger IPA, which is featured at the Hotel’s bar.
Medrano shows us all about honey processing, from removing the comb, separating the sweet viscous liquid from the wax, centrifuging the final product, and yes, eating it. Though it is a pretty straight-forward process, it takes a patience and deft hand. Then we step outside to see the bees. The hum of the bees gets louder as we approach the hives on the 4th floor roof of the Hotel. It’s a sunny day, and the bees zip in-and-out of the hives, around-and-about our heads.
It’s a pretty stunning view – we look out towards the Boston Convention and Events Center, the high-rises of the financial district, and to the South Boston wharf. It is remarkable to see where this honey hot-spot is located – right in the midst of the equally buzzing city.
The hives at the Seaport are in large part due to the foresight and management of James Carmondy – Vice President and General Manager. He is proud of the hives, and sees corporate sustainability initiatives as integral to best business practices. Carmondy was raised in Dorchester, MA, only a few miles from where the Hotel now stands. Carmondy and Medrano’s next steps are to add food production to the 4th floor roof. This will be pursued with the advice of local roof-top farming businesses like Higher Ground Farm and Green City Growers.
And the best part of the tour?
We each left with a jar of the delicious honey.
Also active in the New England area is The Best Bees Company. The company delivers, installs, and manages honey bee hives for residents and businesses throughout southern New England and the greater NYC area. Best Bees currently manages ~350 beehives in rural, suburban, and urban habitats, including Boston, Providence, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The profits from the hive installations fund their research to improve honey bee health, based out of the Urban Beekeeping Laboratory & Bee Sanctuary in Boston’s South End.
Read more about honey production with Best Bees, Cambridge’s Beat Hotel and Boston’s The Beehive – the honey is used at the restaurants.
And on the residential front: I spotted this small home hive on a summer’s walk around the block. Many home-owners, and even renters, find beekeeping can be a rewarding project.
Elli & Lina