Earlier this month, a bee species was added to the endangered species list for the first time in the United States. Seven once-abundant varieties of the insect are now threatened by habitat loss, wildfires, and invasive plants and insects.
This is just the latest in a string of bad news for our pollinating pals. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious phenomenon where worker bees disappear, leaving their hives to break down, has affected nearly half of American colonies since it was first identified in 2006. Though its exact cause is unknown, scientists now think that pesticides and invasive pests may fuel the anomaly.
Bees pollinate a third of the crops we eat—not to mention, produce honey, loaded with minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants—so their livelihood shouldn't be taken lightly.
Thankfully, an army of NYC urban beekeepers is doing its darnedest to protect the species. From hives atop corporate buildings to kid-friendly apiaries on rooftop farms, "Bee Ball" dance celebrations downtown and Honey Festivals outside the city's boundaries, their traces are everywhere. You just have to know where to look.
Here's a peek into the city's buzzworthy bee subculture and its universal message on mindful, green living.