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Sandy’s a bee killer; heartbreaking tragedy strikes Brooklyn’s urban farmers

Apiary enthusiast Tim O’Neal pictured in The Brooklyn Paper in March.

Here’s another example of The Brooklyn Paper’s outstanding hyperlocal coverage of Hurricane Sandy: This was just posted in the newspaper’s liveblog

A million bees living on the banks of the East River met a horrible end last night when Hurricane Sandy tore their hives apart.

The insects were part of a honey-making plan by the urban farmers at the Brooklyn Grange, who maintained 25 hives — each containing about 40,000 bees — on Pier K at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.But that waterfront location was right in the path of Sandy’s devastating storm surge.“All our hives that were out on the pier were destroyed,” said Chase Emmons, a managing partner and the chief beekeeper at Brooklyn Grange.

An additional 10 hives located on Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop farm survived — but the loss is catastrophic for the city’s largest apiary.

Emmons knew before the storm that the hives were at risk.

“There was little we could do without a Herculean effort,” he said.

What’s most heartbreaking, said Emmons, is that all of the lost hives were donated by a retired Pennsylvania beekeeper last year — so they housed extra-hearty bees with stellar genetics.

“The biggest loss is to our selective breeding genetic program. Our plan is to end up with bees that are well suited to the New York environment,” said Emmons. “This puts us back at least a year.”

But Emmons is confident that the Brooklyn Grange’s bee program will be up and running again next summer.

“Live and learn,” said Emmons, who noted that Brooklyn Grange workers will assess the equipment and see what they can salvage tomorrow. “You’ve got to come back stronger.”

One Response to Sandy’s a bee killer; heartbreaking tragedy strikes Brooklyn’s urban farmers

  1. Chase Emmons Reply

    October 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hey everyone, this is Chase. As big a loss as this is to the farm, our thoughts go out to those who lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods in this catastrophic storm.

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