Urban Buzz: The secret life of Raleigh bees

Thursday, October 8, 2015
The secret life of city bees
Raleigh is home to hundreds of thousands of urban bees

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Nestled among the downtown Raleigh skyline are hundreds of thousands of bees in dozens of beehives around the city.

"In the city there are so many plantings for ornamentals just for aesthetics, and that gives the bees all this forage materials," said beekeeper Alice Hinman.

With her smoking pot in hand, Hinman met ABC11 on the rooftop of Sitti, ready to check on the Lebanese restaurant's hives.

"The bees in urban environments are actually, I think, doing better than the bees in an environment you'd expect them to do good in," Hinman observed.

It's no secret there's a bee crisis. Insecticides, a deadly parasitic mite, and weather are all factors in the bees' slow demise. That's why urban gardens have become so important.

Sitti and Raleigh Times chef Matthew Scofield said the restaurant got the hives because the wanted the honey. More recently, they got 15 gallons from their bees. He says urban honey tastes different, spicier.

The bees fly to other rooftop gardens like the Garden at Marbles, City Farm, and around Moore and Nash Square. But, what started as a way to get the sticky sweet liquid gold is now so much more.

Sitti and other downtown businesses are part of a movement to help the bees.

"I think most folks know a lot of stuff is going on with the bees that may have a lot of challenges right now, so anything people are doing to try to help them is good," Hinman explained.

And don't worry, you won't be swarmed with bees the next time you come downtown. Hinman said bees don't swarm people, they only fly in a swarm when the outgrow their hive and take off looking for a new place to live.

If you notice a colony of honeybees swarming on your house or car, call a local beekeeper instead of an exterminator. They will remove the bees and take them to safety.

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