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Bee Here Now

Honey, They Shrunk the Species

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Bees make interesting pets, and each hive is more of a single entity, since individuals cannot survive on their own. They are remarkably docile animals, going about their business oblivious to our presence, and offering a compelling spectacle in addition to sweet liquid gold. In his fascinating book Honeybee Democracy (Princeton, 2010) Thomas Seeley describes how the process by which a swarm chooses a new home resembles the way a human brain makes decisions, and how each bee acts tirelessly and without ego to nurture and protect the hive. "It's a great model for us," says Denver. "We're looking into making our employees stakeholders in the business as we grow, so we don't have to be their bosses." Phillips, who came to bees as an avid mead maker, plans to build a meadery behind the store within the next few years. "People ask us what our business plan is," Phillips laughs, looking over at Denver. "To have a business teaching people about bees." Denver nods. "If we couldn't teach—if we were just hawking gear—we'd close this down tomorrow."

Photographs from Peter Barrett's visit to the Hudson Valley Bee Supply.

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