Beehives on Rooftops in Downtown Birmingham
I was shocked to find out someone was raising bees on a rooftop in Downtown Birmingham. A few weeks ago a new Twitter-er with the handle @citybee followed me. Taking a quick look at their profile told me that they sell honey and list their location as Birmingham. I’ve always heard local honey eases allergies, but even if that’s not true it’s a great excuse to eat honey and I like to support Birmingham area businesses. I followed the link to their website to see where I could buy their honey. Browsing the site, the word “urban” kept popping up and I thought “surely they can’t be raising bees downtown, can they?” A little digging turned up that, sure enough it was downtown and only two blocks away from me. Even crazier, I recognized the address as being the house of my friends Chuck Strahan and Jay McKinney.
I got in touch with Chuck and Jay. They told me that yes, they were raising bees on their roof and selling honey along with creams and balms made from beeswax. They invited the Accordion Player and I over to check out the operation. The hives are on the roof, three stories up, so the bees’ flightpaths don’t intersect foot traffic in the area. They travel for three miles every direction gathering pollen from trees and other local plants.
City Bee started out 3 years ago with 10,000 bees. They harvest honey once a year, usually in late spring or July at the latest. The operation has grown and with only two hives last year they produced over 162 pounds of honey. This is an especially impressive yield considering they only harvest excess honey, leaving the bees with plenty for themselves, instead of supplementing the bees’ diets with sugar water as is common practice with some other producers. The city has ordinances about the number of bee hives a homeowner can keep, so they are looking for creative ways to expand within the city, but in the meantime are setting up more hives and their very own processing facility near Smith Lake.
Recently City Bee redid thier logo and packaging. They approached the UAB Visual Marketing Department, and students came up with some simple, very modern, looking designs. I think the new packaging looks extremely classy and professional.
City Bee sells their honey and beeswax products in the neighborhood at Charm and Sojourns. You can also catch them at Pepper Place on the weekend of May 16th. If you prefer to buy honey in your underwear, you can order in the comfort of your home directly from their website.
The honey was delicious and gone in about a week. I don't know that it did anything for my allergies, but they have been so bad this year I'm not sure anything would help.
I’ve especially enjoyed the lip balm. It has a nice Lemongrass scent and goes on easily.
I also bought the Earth Element Body Butter. It’s a great moisturizer and I love the texture. I’m not the biggest fan of patchouli and the scent was a little strong for me, so next time I am going to try either the Jasmine & Cypress or Lavender & Lemongrass scents instead.
It's exciting to have another creative business downtown, and who would have thought to put beehives on a rooftop? What a great idea!