—When you walk through an urban area, would you expect to see a honeybee hive?
Steve Repasky, vice president of Burgh Bees, sees opportunity in cities for the honeybee.
"Our mission is to educate beekeepers and promote beekeeping as a vital part of sustainable agriculture," he said during an interview at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Aside from providing valuable information for community members, the organization is also "very active in training beekeepers."
Since its inception, they have trained "around 400 beekeepers."
Burgh Bees is based in Pittsburgh and is a part of the Penn State Cooperative Extension, and was on the forefront of integrating hives into an urban setting. The organization is responsible for having the first urban community apiary of its kind.
The organization also "develops and maintains urban apiaries" that act as a hands-on center for instructing aspiring beekeepers.
Urban beekeeping has become increasingly popular through the last 10 years. Since 1999, there has been a 220 percent increase in the amount of beekeepers practicing in an urban setting.
As a certified master beekeeper, Repasky helps spread his passion for these creatures and their large importance to agriculture.
Repasky says they have active hives "all through Pittsburgh" in some unconventional places.
"We have hives on rooftops," behind restaurants and grocery stores. Their bees also buzz around The Pittsburgh Zoo.
One of the challenging aspects of beekeeping in a city is "finding a place to put the hives." Burgh Bees currently has 25 hives in the community apiary, with 20 of those belonging to private beekeepers.
The recent awareness on factors like sustainability in farming have brought awareness back to the importance of the honeybee.
Repasky says he "sees a trend for urban vegetable farms" and even "urban chicken farming."
If you would like to learn more about beekeeping in our area, contact the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association by visiting www.pastatebeekeepers.org. To learn more about Burgh Bees, visit burghbees.com.