Apiaries have been around for the ages. But in the current cultural trend of dabbling in a preindustrial agrarian lifestyle, this is just one more area where food enthusiasts are bringing nature to their backdoors (or rooftops as the case may be). And, Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper, located on a quiet street in San Francisco, is bringing many of these ventures (from all over the word) to inside the shop for a place where you can find almost anything you want in relation to honey—center of the hive, so to speak. I stopped by for a honey tasting (flights $2) and went away with a greater appreciation for this golden, sticky sweetener. The shop is set up to provide beekeepers with essential tools and the rest of us with delicious by-products (soaps, salves, and lip balms stand among the array of honeys and other edible honey-made delectables).After my visit, and learning more about our buzzing friends, I was left with much to ponder.

Urban beekeeping is on the rise, which is good in many ways. Bee populations in general, however, are facing a rapid decline. Eating unique honey’s from Germany to Chicago is one way we can support the growth of the honey industry—we want to encourage more small producers and hobbyists to get involved. But how can those of us not prepared to manage our own hives (or live in a city where it’s illegal) get involved? Häagen-Dazs’ site HelpTheHoneyBees.com provides useful information on ways you can become involved. And with their Vanilla Honey Bee flavor, you can support ongoing research at UC Davis and Penn State, where researchers are looking into the mysterious decline in beehives. According to an article published in February 2008, Häagen-Dazs’ feels that this is a major threat not only to their ice creams but to the food industry as a whole, as many fruits and nuts depend on bees for pollination. Urban homesteading is proving to be a valuable way to keep life sweet, along with that bowl of ice cream. And to these and other efforts to keep bees buzzing, we say here, here. —Liesel Davis


Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper
3520 20th Street
San Francisco