The Art of Beekeeping on Urban Farms
The back-to-the-land movement is bringing honeybees back to their city home
Urban beekeeping is part of a larger urban back-to-the-land movement that also includes raising chickens and gardening on a larger scale, and is at least in part a response to the environmental costs of factory farming and transporting produce over long distances. San Francisco has many such urban farms, and some of these farms are expanding operations into beekeeping to aid in the pollination of the crops, including Hayes Valley Farm, Finny Farm, and Alemany Farm.
Bees love San Francisco almost as much as I do. There are a number of reasons why San Francisco is ideal for urban beekeeping. San Francisco has a mild climate, and bees can be kept without migration of hives, resulting in less stress on the bees. Tees, shrubs, and many plants flower ten months of the year reducing the need for the bees to stock honey for the winter. Environmental policies and community organizations help also by supporting a healthy environment for bees.
All that said, honeybees are up against strong forces. There is even a bee saboteur in San Francisco. In July 2010, someone intentionally sprayed pesticide at the entrance to three urban hives located at Hayes Valley Farm, two acres of community farm land in what was formerly the central freeway. The saboteur killed about 300,000 bees, costing Hayes Valley Farm roughly $2,000.