From an interesting Christian Science Monitor story about urban beekeeping:
This year there are at least 30 new hives in community gardens, on rooftops, and in backyards across New York. Most are the result of a series of beekeeping classes taught last winter by Jim Fischer, a veteran beekeeper who lives in Manhattan.
Mr. Fischer and some of his students formed the Gotham City Honey Co-op to buy beekeeping equipment in bulk, and hope eventually to set up a site where members can extract and bottle their honey. The co-op also plans to brand its honey and sell it to specialty stores.
The only hitch: Beekeeping is illegal in New York City.
Mr. Fischer and other Big Apple beekeepers are confident that the honeybee ban will be lifted soon. A city councilor has introduced a bill to legalize it, and urban gardening groups are pushing for it to be passed.
My knee-jerk sympathies are with the beekeepers. I'm open to the idea that in some circumstances a hive's spillover effects would make it a nuisance, thus allowing antsy neighbors to banish the bees even under a hard-core libertarian's law code. But I'm also open to the idea that the fretful folks next door just don't know much about bees:
Since bee populations have declined, people understand them less, says Fischer, who as a child spent the summers playing baseball barefoot. Back then, grass-seed mixes included red clover, a bee favorite. Inevitably, children stepped on bees. There were tears, but parents took it in stride—"the response was a hug and a cookie," he says.
Today, many people mistake one bodily response to a bee sting—some swelling and itching—for an allergic reaction and take their children to the emergency room, Fischer says.