New York
Photo by Tom Whitburn

The New York Wilds: Beekeeping in the Empire State

My introduction to The Best Bees Company occurred when I heard one of the partners, Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D., speak at a New York City Beekeepers Association meeting. This new and rewarding chapter in my life began a year earlier at the Brooklyn Grange Farm, where I enrolled in a beekeeper trainee program under the mentorship of Dan Carr—the ultimate bee-whisperer and apiary director at the time at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture.

Hearing Noah’s presentation made me eager to continue my hands-on education and work more extensively with honeybees. When the opportunity arose, I eagerly accepted an offer to manage the local beehives near my home, while I worked as an account manager at a branding and design agency.

My innate abilities adapted quickly to my newfound passion.  Within a relatively short period, I was managing all of the local Best Bees Manhattan hives.  And within a month of that assignment my diligent work paid off. I found myself managing all of the New York market hives.

Beekeeping in New York City

As a beekeeper managing hives in the New York market, I take great pride and pleasure in the diversity—from hives perched atop skyscraper rooftops to inner city backyards and terraces to suburban high rises and the rural terrains of hilltops, waterside, and inland, flatland properties.

Today we have three times the number of hives in the New York market with greater expansion planned for the 2017 season.  Added locations have given way to expanded services.  In addition to installing and attending hives, we are now spinning and bottling clients’ honey locally in NY.

When I’m asked about the experience, I like to say all the hives are like kids; they’re each unique and different in their own way and generally exhibit, from the get-go, their own unique behavioral aspects.  The diverse qualities that define who they are and how they will behave provide each hive with a wide range of personalities. Needless to say, I have fun nicknaming them.

My greatest pleasure comes from taking clients through the process of seeing and learning about the fascinating and evolving activity happening within their hives over the course of a season. The bees truly are amazing and impressive creatures on so many levels. Sometimes they surprise; sometimes disappoint, but never cease to amaze—it’s all part of the process.

My time at The Best Bees Company has allowed me to go from inquisitive observer to active paid professional—from scrambling to identify one hive to overseeing dozens in the greater metropolitan New York region. My newfound profession complements another occupation as professional cook/chef and culinary assistant/educator.

At heart, I’m an urban kid, born-and-raised in New York City, from a dad who grew up on his family farm in Michigan and a mom raised in CT when backyard victory gardens were still a standard.

It’s been a thrill—a fun adventure with lasting experiences bringing the beauty and added-value of honeybee pollination to my home town.

The Best Bees Company is actively hiring beekeepers in all nine cities where we operate. We’re proud to provide paying jobs for local beekeepers, both experienced and new to the field. Currently all positions are part time, but we encourage all interested participants to reach out. Responsibilities include hive inspections, equipment building, and honey jarring, among other related tasks. In some cities we have the opportunity for staff to do light rooftop farm work in addition to beekeeping.

If you’d like to apply as a part time beekeeper, please send a resume and cover letter to Sean Smith at

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