Andrew Coté – US
He is a fifth-generation beekeeper and co-founder of Beekeepers without Borders. He’s also a lit bit quirky, which I find compelling. He intentionally doles out hundreds of $2 bills a week through his honey business whenever he’s at a market or makes a purchase.
He wrote a best practices guide that was adopted by the New York Beekeeper Association. He built hives on the Waldorf Astoria’s roof and in 2012 the Waldorf harvested 125 pounds of honey. Each Waldorf hive contains about 60,000 bees.
Andrew’s been around bees for a while. He started beekeeping when he was 10 years old. Currently, he tends more than 50 hives in the city, on rooftops, community gardens, and balconies in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, and sells the honey at farmers markets in the area.
He says that urban bees are luckier than rural bees, which have been devastated nationwide by colony collapse disorder. Thirty to fifty percent of the commercial beehives in the U.S. have collapsed since 2006. According to the latest USDA industry survey, which has led the USDA to provide a $3 million subsidy to counter the devastating effects on bees, nearly a third of commercial honeybees died during the winter of 2012. That amounts to an increase of 42% from 2011.
Living near Central Park is a smorgasbord,” says Andrew.
If you’re interested in trying your hand at beekeeping, he recommends setting up a new beehive during the spring. During the spring, flowers begin to bud, things begin to grow, and the queen begins to build up her colony.
Andrew advances beekeeping interests however he can. He bought a school bus and built a mobile beehive to teach kids about bees. He founded the non-profit Bees without Borders as a way for people to learn how to become beekeepers as a way to fight poverty. There is a catch however. He teaches only when asked. His nonprofit group has worked with communities in Haiti, Uganda, Fiji, and Kenya.
“I don’t want to force people. I only go where asked because I want us to be a resource, available and responsive to needs,” says Coté. “Bees Without Borders combines the four things I love: philanthropy, education, travel, and beekeeping.”
Although he operates small, he does so with a big heart and well aware of the impact he can make being small.
“I’d rather be small and implement change well than larger and bludgeon change,” he says.
Maybe there’s a non-profit under your sleeve ready to tackle a global concern? Pull it out and enjoy feeling like you can do something about an issue that concerns you.
By the way, do you think Andrew takes safety concerns seriously when travelling to exotic places? You bet. He says he isn’t cavalier about his safety. He stays aware of the dangers wherever he is invited to bring Bees without Borders. He takes “every conceivable precaution,” he says. That includes alerting consulates and embassies and sometimes armed security guards accompany the team.
I feel like checking out the bees at the top of the Waldorf and drip a little honey on an unsalted warm pretzel. Bees are fancy. Sigh.
Sources: The Daily Beast, Vimeo, New York Times, Martha Stewart, Christian Science Monitor, The Epoch Times, Center for Research on Globalization