Where Have All the Bees Gone?

IMG_0639Last week when I was at the Saturday Union Square Market I stopped by Twin Spruce Apiaries not because I needed honey or candles just mostly to look, it was one of those lazy Summer like late Fall afternoons and I was enjoying being out in the sun taking in the bounty of the market.IMG_0638Nonie and Bruce Bauer have been a regular fixture at the market ever since I started going back in 1992.  When we lived on second avenue I used to buy candles from Nonie on a regular basis. She always had a wonderful selection of tapered beeswax candles in many colors she also, as you can see from the picture above, does a lot more than just tapers!

Nonie and I began chatting, she was apologizing for all the activity going on behind the counter with people hugging and saying good-bye.  I asked her if this was their last market of the season and when in the Spring they would be back?  After all I’d seen them there for the better part of 23 years and Twin Spruce Apiaries is a family business dating back to the 1940’s Walter Bauer is a second generation beekeeper. It was incomprehensible that she meant permanentlyIMG_0636We won’t be back, this is it.  

Nonie said flatly.  Then explained:

We can’t provide you the honey anymore, it’s the bees.  We’ve lost too many bees…

I was dumbstruck. Here is a family who has made a living off of bees for two generations. Nonie and Walter drove 135 miles each way from the Catskills every Saturday come rain or shine to the Union Square market to sell Honey, Candles and some baked goods.  Now it was over?  Not because they had decided to retire, (do Apiarist make enough money to retire?) but because of colony collapse the bees that had provided them a livelihood all these years had mostly died off – thanks to the farming of GMO’s.IMG_0640I asked Nonie a lot of questions trying to somehow figure out a way for this not to be true.  She was distracted and busy, for her is was just a cold reality, why it had happened wasn’t so interesting to her as the fact of it.  

The only thing I could do when faced with this was to shop: 6 nice beeswax tapers, 2 scented green pinecones ones, a  5 lb jar of buckwheat honey and smaller jar of honey with a honeycomb in it.  The total cost for all of that: $52  IMG_0646The minute I walked away I called Neil all upset and sad.  

What are these people going to do?  

Was my first thought.  My second thought was:

Look what we have done.IMG_0637 

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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3 Responses to Where Have All the Bees Gone?

  1. Sandi says:

    We all rely on bees and other insects to pollinate plants–plants that we all rely on for food, either directly or indirectly. “What have we done?” is right. You don’t have to like honey, beeswax or any other “bee product” in order to benefit from their existence; the existence of bees is closely tied to our own existence. It’s unfortunate that by the time everyone realizes what we have done it might just be too late.

  2. Pingback: Pure Honey in Turkey | Urbanfoodguy

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