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NEW YORK CITY • Andrew Coté stands on the 20th-floor roof of Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria, skyscrapers towering over him. His attention, though, is on the six smaller structures rising up around his waist. Made of pine and painted white, these are the hotel’s beehives, home to some 400,000 honeybees (which, like other guests here, enjoy ready access to the flora-filled expanses of Central Park).
Coté—whose father, Norm, kept bees for Martha Stewart—is the founder of Bees Without Borders, which helps establish apiaries in impoverished communities around the world, including ones in Uganda, Guatemala and Iraq. Closer to home, he’s had a hand in many of the 182 hives registered in New York City. The cluster he installed at the Waldorf-Astoria in April represents one of his more ambitious projects here. If all goes well, Coté says, the hotel should be able to harvest 300 pounds of honey each year.
As he tends the hives, Coté is joined by David Garcelon, the hotel’s culinary director, and sous-chef Joshua Bierman. Both men wear netted masks and thick gloves. Coté also wears a mask, but not the gloves. “I don’t want to risk hurting them,” he says of the bees, shrugging off the few stings visible on his hands. (Garcelon is less blithe about the fierce-looking lump on his temple.)
The bugs swarming around him, Coté explains, have been brought in from as far afield as western Pennsylvania, eastern Georgia and northern California. “It’s a story of small-town bees,” he says, “who’ve made it in the big city.” —JAMES STURZ