Bee Village: The Battery Bee Sanctuary

The BeeVillage hives

Have you strolled down the tip of Manhattan and found yourself face-to-face with a set of historic-looking buildings that were not populated by people, but instead by gentle honey bees?  If so, you’ve experienced BeeVillage: The Battery, an urban bee sanctuary.

BeeVillage: The Battery is a bee sanctuary located at The Battery Conservancy close to where 4.2 million visitors from around the world gather to see one of the world’s most iconic monuments: the 305-foot tall Statue of Liberty, the Statue that greeted many of the immigrants that traveled to the USA for a better life during the 19th century.

Each BeeVillage hive is designed to reflect our great city’s architectural journey from New Amsterdam to New York City; from farmhouses and Dutch-style step gables to tenement style apartment buildings.  The hives have been decorated to look like the historic buildings of New York by the beekeepers under the guidance of artist and beekeeper, Jan Mun.  Each beehive has been refurbished on the outside with miniature windows, moldings and wall sidings. 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, New York.

Thanks to the kind attention of the The Battery Conservancy’s talented gardeners and team, The Battery provides bee gardens in abundance. The Battery is reimagining urban parks in the 21st century and created a created a biodiverse habitat that not only attracts people, but also bees, birds and butterflies. Since 2008, The Battery has served as a certified Monarch Waystation. Its lush gardens around the Labyrinth are populated with asters, witch hazels, blueberries, spicebush, asters, ferns.

The gentle bees help pollinate The Battery Urban Farm and act as as an educational magnet for visitors to The Battery Conservancy and The Statue of Liberty.  The hives are clear examples of the The Battery Conservancy’s commitment to sustainability and honeybee populations, which have steeply declined since 2006. This is a concern since, according to the USDA, about one in three mouthfuls of food we eat benefits from honeybee pollination.

The beekeepers of BeeVillage: The Battery – Nicole, Guillermo, Jan and Ed (l. to r.). We tend to the bees most Saturdays at 11am. Stop by if you are in the area!

The honeybees, like the past immigrants that were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, are foreigners to the United States. Honey bees were brought by the European colonists in the 1700’s.  At this bee sanctuary, they work as pollinators and mediators to discuss the complex issues of immigration, technology, environment, climate change and populations at risk.

The hives were nearly all destroyed during October 2012 when Superstorm Sandy hit the Battery and record-breaking surges of 14 feet flooded and washed away several of the hives.  The hives have all been replaced and placed on platforms over a foot of the ground. Also, an emergency plan has been put in place to move the hives in the event of future flooding.

The BeeVillage: The Battery logo was designed by artist Bundith Phunsombatlert, who included BeeVillage in Art within One Mile: The Route from Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge, a site-specific project that invited the public to embark on guided journeys to discover the city’s existing public artworks including these urban hives

The BeeVillage logo was created by artist Bundith Phunsombatlert. It’s the southernmost anchor in his acclaimed piece, Art within One Mile: The Route from Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge

The BeeVillage logo was created by artist Bundith Phunsombatlert. It’s the southernmost anchor in his acclaimed piece, Art within One Mile: The Route from Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge

Bee Village: The Divine


The gardens of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City. Image courtesy of T. Windling of Myth & Moor,

BeeVillage: Divine is an urban honey bee sanctuary in the gardens of the world-renowned Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  The Cathedral gardens, which already are home to two peacocks and a red-tailed hawk, is also be home to two hive of Apis Mellifera, also known as the honey bee.

The queen bee of the main hive, which was installed in 2012, has been named, “The Divine Queen”.  In the fall, an artisanal honey is extracted from the hive, one that is known as “Divine Honey.”  As bees only travel 3-5 miles to collect flower nectar and pollen, the Divine Honey will take on the unique characteristics of the Cathedral’s gardens and neighboring flora.