(Reuters) - While in other parts of the world honeybees have been creating a buzz because of their rapid decline, in New York their population has been soaring for the past few years, literally.
The number of urban beekeepers has exponentially grown according to Andrew Coté, President of New York City Beekeepers Association, with registered beehives growing ten-fold in the past five years.
In Manhattan, many keep their hives on rooftops, including skyscrapers and office buildings which make for "fantastic apiaries", according to Coté.
"Tending beehives on top of New York City and other urban areas is nothing new. However, there has been something of a renaissance in the past five to eight years and it has gained great popularity," he told Reuters on Tuesday (July 26).
Coté tends hives on a dozen of skyscrapers throughout Manhattan, including the ones on the 76th floor of the Residence Inn hotel near Central Park, which at 723 feet (220 meters) is the highest apiary measured from the ground in the world according to management.
"Since we have put the hives in two and a half years ago, we have done a fair amount of research, and we haven't been able to find a hive higher than we are at this point," explained Timothy McGlinchey Area General Manager of Residence Inn Central Park.
The hotel started the "Broadway Bees" project as part of their green initiative as bees are the main pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruits and vegetables.
The rooftop hosts six hives which totals to about 180,000 honey bees, all in robust condition.
Bee populations are in sharp decline around the world, under attack from a poorly understood phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. One reason is believed to be the bees' exposure to excessive pesticides and chemicals in rural areas and the lack thereof in New York makes the hives healthy, says Coté.
"Beehives in New York City are healthier I would say then the beehives in the Midwest. There is little to no spraying (of pesticides) on top of buildings, no chemicals interfering with their ins and outs," he said.
Naturally, the honey gathered by urban bees is apt for human consumption. Coté owns dozens of hives throughout the city and sells his "caramelized gold" in green markets and online. The labels read "Tribeca", "Bushwick" or "Coney Island" corresponding with the neighborhood the honey was collected from.
"I don't care. To me if it's pure good organic, whether it's made on a rooftop or in a shed, it doesn't matter to me," said Harvey Marshal, who frequently buys "Andrew's Honey".
"I just had a taste of it and it's really nice," said another customer Paul Walker.
New York has legalized beekeeping in 2010 and currently has nearly 300 registered hives according to the Department of Health.