Urban Honey Man Takes the Sting out of Beekeeping

Bees swarm honey on beekeeper's hand

July 02, 2018 - Low-Carbon Environment Our Communities

For most of us, a bee sting can puncture a lovely summer day. Yet, for beekeeper Andrew Coté, getting stung is a way of life.

Andrew will be leading an educational presentation at TD Bank's High Line Honey Harvest Event on July 14 in New York City. The event will conclude High Line Honey's year-long initiative to highlight the vital role bees play in sustaining the planet's food supply and ecosystems.

How did an English professor with a passion for Japanese literature wind up running a honey stand?

According to Andrew, bees are in his blood, as it all started with his great grandfather's Canadian bee farm in the 1800s. And ever since his story appeared in Bon Appétit and The New York Times, Andrew has been fielding requests for autographs from his honey stand at Union Square.

Why the sudden buzz? Scientists have been documenting the steep decline in bee populations over the last several years. When journalists uncovered his bio – a tenured English professor turned urban honey maker – his story took wing.

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“Beekeeping was always a part of my life," said Andrew, "but I didn’t give it much thought as a prospective career."  

Yet after a decade of academic study, leading to a tenured faculty position working for the State of Connecticut, Andrew still felt drawn to the world of bees, increasingly finding himself harvesting honey on his father's farm. It all came to a head when Andrew's department chair learned that he'd played hooky to chat about bees on Live with Martha Stewart.

So, Andrew left the academy to join his father in the family business. His wife soon followed, helping out with accounting.  

These days, Andrew spends his days spooning syrupy confections to throngs of tourists and locals at Farmer's Markets throughout the New York area. He also helps run influential nonprofits, including New York Beekeepers Association and Bees Without Borders.   i-KzgSszQ-XL.jpg#asset:1424

We joined Andrew as he led a class at the New York High Line, an urban green space sponsored by TD Bank as part of its Ready Commitment, which is targeting a CDN $1 billion investment by 2030 to increase financial security; elevate the quality of the environment; create opportunities for everyone to participate in their communities; and support more equitable health outcomes for all.

Throughout the class, Andrew shared key bee facts and cleared up some misconceptions. "Each year, thousands of trucks, carrying up to 120 billion bees, traverse the United States to pollinate millions of acres of almonds in California," said Andrew. "That’s where the real money is, not honey."

The High Line Honey initiative will produce between 100 to 150 pounds of honey from rooftop beehives in the Chelsea neighborhood. The harvested honey will be sold at the High Line Honey Harvest Event, with 100% of the proceeds from honey sales benefitting the horticulture and sustainable maintenance of the park.


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