A book that I edited, Hives in the City: Keeping Honey Bees Alive in an Urban World by environmental journalist Alison Gillespie, is now available in paperback and e-book. The publisher is Croydon Hill, Silver Spring, Maryland. The website is hivesinthecity.com
Gillespie tracked women and men who keep their honey bees in unlikely places – on the rooftops of high-rises, next to charter schools, behind row homes, and on abandoned lots. Some want to give the bees a haven away from pesticides. Others want to increase the production of urban farms and gardens. These beekeepers share a love for these fascinating insects and know a terrible truth: the honey bees are in trouble.
Besides the urban beekeepers she tracked, including at the White House, Alison interviewed scientists specializing in Colony Collapse Disorder and the threat to our food supply, including the USDA head researcher. She brought to the subject her open scientific mind, her personable interest in the people she met, and her love of ecology and the place of bees in a sustainable environment.
Personally, it was a challenge to work with a professional journalist with a “homes and gardens” readership and show her how to translate her usual style to a readership interested in both human and ecological issues. As with most writers, she was on a restricted budget, so I coached her in how to go about the editing work that I would normally undertake. And she succeeded very well. We had some hour-long verbal tussles to clarify both her intention and my ear for what’s marketable – and had a good time in the process.
She had contacted me mid-January, and was committed to March 1 publication to meet the beginning of the beekeepers’ annual cycle and to be able to schedule talks at beekeepers’ associations around the East Coast. We would have made it if global warming hadn’t produced a succession of snowstorms in DC that kept her kids out of school and underfoot so she couldn’t write. Even so, we were only about ten days late. I do enjoy the challenge of tight schedules, but not as a regular diet.
I’m very pleased with how the text turned out. It’s a book worth reading for anyone interested in the ecological issues, the organic gardening challenges, and stories from the community of urban beekeepers.