Bees may be a nuisance for city dwellers but for beekeeper Tim O’Neil, what’s an annoyance to many is his livelihood and lifelong passion. O’Neil started beekeeping at the age of 13. Now 14 years late he is managing hives and heading a beekeeper apprenticeship program at Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop garden in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.
O’Neil also manages bees at Borough Bees and several hives at different locations throughout Brooklyn. A pair of hives at the Added Value Community Farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn, died over the winter. O’Neil and Alex Brown, photographer and volunteer at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, are introducing new bees to the abandoned hives in Red Hook.
Beekeeping was illegal until 2010. Legal beekeepers must register their hives with the city. But the legalization, urban beekeeping is a growing hobby in the city. Beekeepers like Tim O’Neil, whose grandfather also kept bees, are also passing on the trade to others.