Bryon Waibel runs what he believes is the world’s only urban beekeeping store. It’s called Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper and Waibel, who uses the handle 006, does seem to believe that he/ the store/ urban beekeepers are serving a cause.
“It would not surprise me at all if the future of the honeybee itself is in urban beekeeping,” he says, “It would not surprise me at all.”
For those not familiar with the problem with bees, the threat is Colony Collapse Disorder: a phenomenon where honeybees worldwide are disappearing. No one knows the cause though some point to a combination of pests and environmental pathogens like pesticides and GM crops.
The secret of urban bees
Waibel thinks the solution could be urban bee hives and he’s not alone. French beekeeper’s association Unaf found that urban bees are up to four times as productive as their rural cousins because they have a wider variety of plant life for pollination and aren’t exposed to pesticides like their country counterparts.
It seems the plight of the bees has politicized urban homesteaders to do their part. “Urban beekeeping I would say it’s increased at least 3 or 4 fold over the last 3 years.” And he says this jump in beekeeping enthusiasm merged neatly with press coverage of Colony Collapse Disorder and increased public perception in the importance of honeybees.
Langstroth hives and mead-making goods
To arm all these newly recruited urban warriors, Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper sells beekeeping supplies like protective suits, combs and hives, mostly Langstroth equipment (“The standard equipment in the United States… named after the Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth who used the discovery of beespace to invent this moveable frame hive.”)
In this video, Waibel gives us a tour of the store’s supplies (which include hyperlocal honey, beeswax soap and cosmetics and mead- (honey wine) making equipment. He also talks about how, to his surprise, his personal urban bee hives are doing better than those of his father in Michigan farm country.
Television producer-turned-blogger-turned-ecogeek, Kirsten Dirksen is co-founder of faircompanies.com, a news/blog/video site focused on environmental sustainability for people and the planet.