Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to bees today. We create safe havens for bees to thrive and ecosystems to flourish.
Building Better Ecology With Bee Sanctuaries
A glimpse into our Sanctuary at Battery Park in NYC.
Our Bee Sanctuaries consist of honeybee hives and/or native bee houses placed in zoos, urban farms, and other green spaces where they serve as valuable environmental and educational resources. Host locations provide protected habitat that includes food and nesting sites for bumble, mason, carpenter, leafcutter, honey and other bees, and sites are maintained by The Bee Conservancy’s dedicated team of Sanctuary Beekeepers.
By placing Bee Sanctuaries in public places, we invite communities to observe bees in action, fostering public support for critical pollinators while bolstering local biodiversity.
Through programming that includes educational talks, classes, wildlife walks, citizen science initiatives and more, our Bee Sanctuaries engage thousands of people, inspiring environmental stewardship while educating on the importance of bees.One third of our Bee Sanctuaries are placed in close proximity to urban farms or community food gardens where they’ll help increase crop yield and support local food systems.
We eagerly look forward to expanding our Sanctuary sites. If you are interested in hosting or funding a Bee Sanctuary, please contact us.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan (NYC)
The largest cathedral in the world, St. John the Divine is renowned for its community-focused programs including performances, exhibitions, a soup kitchen and its annual St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals, in which creatures of all shapes and sizes are brought to be blessed. The cathedral grounds are home to three peacocks and a family of red-tailed hawks, as well as our gentle honey bee hives, which were installed in 2012 as part of a “Blessing of the Bees” ceremony performed by the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, then Bishop of New York. Nearby school groups visit the hives under the guidance of our beekeepers, who teach the children about the environmental connections between bees as pollinators and the cathedral’s Biblical Garden.
BeeVillage: The Battery
Location: Lower Manhattan (NYC)
Nestled among the skyscrapers of the Financial District with views of the Statue of Liberty, The Battery is an urban oasis that is home to a public park, our BeeVillage apiary, and an urban teaching farm that engages schools and donates to food banks. BeeVillage houses four honeybee hives that pollinate The Battery’s 195,000 square feet of perennial gardens and farmland. Each hive is designed to reflect the architectural journey from New Amsterdam to New York City, from farmhouses and Dutch-style step gables to tenement-style apartment buildings, designed under the guidance of artist and beekeeper, Jan Mun. The white beehive in the front pays homage to the John Bowne House, a historic home built in 1661 that is one of the oldest in New York City and the oldest in Queens.
The Urban Farm on Governors Island
Location: Governors Island (NYC)
A quick ferry ride away from Manhattan and Brooklyn, Governors Island is a former Army and Coast Guard command center turned innovative model of culture and sustainable design. Now a popular destination for arts, recreation, education, and dining, the Island’s commitment to the environment manifests through its Zero Waste philosophy and nurture of community organizations like those at The Urban Farm. Here, alongside lavender fields, compost projects, farm animals and teaching farms lies our Bee Sanctuary. With honey bee hives, native bee homes, and planted flower beds, our tranquil space invites visitors to observe bees in their native habitat and pause amid lush greenery, taking a much needed break from city life. In its first year alone, the Bee Sanctuary was the site of more than 20 educational and community events.
Fashion Institute of Technology
Location: Chelsea, Manhattan (NYC)
One block away from Manhattan’s bustling Penn Station sits an ecological haven six stories above the busy sidewalk. Our honey bee apiary sits on the green roof of the iconic education institution, which has more than an acre of blooming sedum and is part of a pollinator corridor that includes Madison Square Park, the Flower District, and the High Line. This Bee Sanctuary introduces future fashion and beauty industry leaders to sustainable, natural methods, as beekeepers share how to harvest bee-derived resources for projects, products, and designs. Each year, students help harvest the honey, which has been bottled and also used in an FIT-branded lip balm. Our honeybees also aid the Natural Dye Garden at FIT by pollinating rooftop plant life, as well as potentially offer a new source of natural dye through bee pollen and propolis.
The Queens Zoo Training Apiary
Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens (NYC)
The honey bees in our apiary at the Queens Zoo keep good company situated in the llama and alpaca field, and they’ve even provided honey and honeycomb to feed the Zoo’s Andean Bear. When they aren’t flying over iconic landmarks like the Unisphere and Arthur Ashe Stadium, home of the U.S. Open, they serve as educational stewards during public hive inspections and pollinate the Zoo and park grounds. Our bees and children’s magazine, Abuzz! News from the Hive, has been integrated into the Zoo’s educational program, serving audiences in the most diverse county in the nation. This training apiary is used in our Beekeeping Apprentice program the ins and outs of managing a hive. We have also provided the Zoo with native bee houses for their pollinator gardens.
Staten Island Zoo
Location: Staten Island (NYC)
A force in New York City’s green efforts, Staten Island is home to the 2,800-acre Greenbelt and Freshkills Park, a public park developed atop a landfill reclamation project. It’s also the site of the Staten Island Zoo, touted as the “First Educational Zoo” for pioneering the inclusion of education goals into its mission in the 1930s. The 8-acre oasis houses two honey bee hives where our beekeepers host Q&As and explain hive inspections to curious visitors. Our Bee Sanctuary is also integrated into the Zoo’s annual Pollinator Palooza, social media storytelling, and is a site of our BeeBlitz citizen science events.
Prospect Park Zoo
Location: Brooklyn (NYC)
Fruit bats and butterflies aren’t the only pollinators at the Prospect Park Zoo. The Bee Conservancy has two honey bee hives in the butterfly garden that help pollinate local lush foliage, the Zoo’s fruit trees and vegetable garden, and the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic garden next door. The 12-acre zoo averages 300,000 visitors annually, and in addition to experiencing rare animals, they can learn about plants the horticulture team chose to attract migrating birds, bees, and butterflies. Prospect Park is home to 59 native bee species, which is 28% of all bee species east of the Mississippi River.
Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project
Location: Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan (NYC)
Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project is an urban rooftop farm in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, managed and run by volunteers. HKFP is the outgrowth of community discussions concerning nutritional security, especially scarcity of affordable fresh produce, in Hell’s Kitchen. Their mission is to create a more food secure urban community through collaborative farming, education, and community initiatives. They do this by growing fresh food on a previously underutilized rooftop for distribution through a local food pantry, providing community nutritional education, and organizing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. The 8′-tall Empire State Building beehive was created by COOKFOX architects.
The Battery Conservancy presents the first Urban Farm at the Battery since the Dutch planted their cottage gardens in New Amsterdam in 1625. This innovative project began with a request from students of a nearby High School’s Environmental Club to plant a vegetable garden in the park. Today, this farming initiative that includes over five schools with over 450 students (K-12) and also donates excess foods to local foodbanks for households in need.
Central Park Zoo – Currently Closed
Location: Central Park, Manhattan (NYC)
Lions, tigers, and bees — oh my! The country’s second oldest zoo resides in Central Park, the green oasis at the heart of Manhattan’s concrete jungle. Here, in this 6.5-acre wildlife refuge that gets one million visitors a year, our apiary helps pollinate the lush gardens within the Zoo and surrounding park lands, supporting local ecology and the Zoo’s vital conservation work. Though not on public display, our hives have been incorporated into educational opportunities like the 2019 Conservation in Action Camp for 9th – 12th graders. In addition to learning about animal husbandry, vet care, and global ecosystems, students learned about the importance of pollinators in urban spaces and ways they can help protect the environment.
News Roots Community Farm – Currently Closed
Location: South Bronx (NYC)
Originally a Sponsor-a-Hive recipient in 2018, beekeepers from our Beekeeping Apprenticeship now manage the honey bee hives at the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Community Farm in the South Bronx. New Roots is a food security program that focuses on giving participants the opportunity to grow their own produce for their family or for sale in a market, providing support to community members who hail from all over the world. By helping resettle refugees and immigrants displaced by war or political crisis, they foster dignity and celebrate heritage through farming and beekeeping. Our bees help pollinate crops, and in 2018 provided the farm 100 pounds of honey.