Parisians covet the honey of their urban terroir, giving the city’s bees prime real estate in the ritzy neighborhoods around the Opéra and Jardin de Luxemborg. London’s bees were recently awarded best in show—their honey came out top in England’s National Honey competition. Stateside, Bay Area bees give San Franciscans one more reason to feel superior to New Yorkers. Even Chicago, hell, even Dallas has bees on top of municipal buildings, including, in Chicago’s case, City Hall.
But in New York, bees are reprobate and illegal. They appear in the City Health Code’s Section 161.01, along with an enormous list of animals “naturally inclined to do harm or capable of inflicting harm,” lumped in with the truly ferocious/impractical—polar bear, cougar, alligator, whale—and a menagerie of the truly obscure. Actively encouraged by almost every other self-respecting cultural capital, the common honey bee, according to Health Department logic, must be banished along with binturongs, sea kraits, coatimundis, numbats and zorilles. Whatever these other animals are, I bet they don’t pollinate much or produce any honey.