Patrick Pynes, a New Mexico native and Flagstaff resident is a self-branded “Organic Beekeeper”. As a beekeeping veteran of 25 years Pynes is something of an expert on the topic and is the founder of the Northern Arizona Organic Beekeepers Association. Beekeeping has surged in popularity in recent years, not only in Northern Arizona, but all over the world.
What it means to be an “Organic Beekeeper” varies depending on who you ask. Pynes defines it as someone who only collects honey when the bees make a surplus, whose honey is made by crushing honeycomb by hand, and who doesn’t filter the pollen out of honey.
Pynes currently has three hives at his home in Flagstaff, and several others in various locations. The Flagstaff city rules regarding the keeping of animals which are not pets have changed recently, and this involves beekeeping.
Pynes opens his hives around once every three weeks, and less frequently in the winter, so as not to disturb the life and work of the colony too often. The honey Pynes collects is not what you find in most grocery stores. Gently heated and crushed by hand, the honeycomb Pynes makes into honey comes from only one hive per bottle. Unlike commercial honey, where the honey is filtered and the comb of dozens of hives may be in one bottle, the honey made by beekeepers like Pynes is made by hand and according to Pynes “The taste just can’t be beat”.
The idea to be a beekeeper began when Pynes was 10 and saw a jar of cut-comb honey (liquefied honey with part of the comb still intact) and the punk rock, anti-establishment attitude of his 20’s pushed him to get his first hive.
To Pynes, keeping bees is a form of rebellion. Pynes says “Keeping animals that not only make food but also help their ecosystem thrive is a way of removing ones self from systems that abuse nature and creating a mutually beneficial bond between bees and humans”.
Beekeeping has taken off around the world; meaning Pynes should be in good company for a very tasty rebellion. Flagstaff is one of many places now allowing residents to keep bees. In 2010 a ban on personal beekeeping was lifted in New York City. Since then more than 100 people have started keeping hives in New York, on balconies and rooftops as well as in public parks. Paris, Berlin, Melbourne and many other cities have become homes to local beehives. The North London Beekeepers Association began turning away prospective members last year because the organization was growing so fast its leaders couldn’t keep up.