KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Ross: These rooftop gardens are getting a new tenant, bees

May 19, 2023, 8:33 AM | Updated: 9:44 am

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 1:  Beekeeper and Chairman of The London Beekeepers Association John Chapple...

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 1: Beekeeper and Chairman of The London Beekeepers Association John Chapple installs a new bee hive on an urban rooftop garden. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Urban rooftop gardens have been around for a long time, but today, they’re not just for decoration. They’re a crucial part of the green building movement.

Where instead of just shedding runoff, the roof stores it and releases it back into the atmosphere to reduce the need for drainage systems.

More from Dave Ross: How much is it going to cost us to save all this money?

One Bryant Park is a 51-story office tower at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. It’s one of those eco-friendly green buildings with a certificate for everybody to see, but it also has something else that’s kept out of sight so as not to spook visitors, beehives.

CBS’s Jill Wagner paid a visit.

“High above the busy streets of Manhattan, an unlikely buzz. Bees, tens of thousands of them, call this skyscraper home,” Wagner said in her report.

“This is the third year that we’ve had bees at the top of One Bryant Park,” Andrew Coté, the beekeeper at One Bryant, said. “You are holding a thousand bees right now.”

The bees aren’t just there for the heck of it. Green roofs like the roof at One Brian Park use water-storing plants called sedum, which is fertilized with compost from the building cafeteria. But it’s the bees that pollinate the flowers and help the sedum spread to cover the roof.

And New York isn’t the only city where this is happening. The Fairmont Hotels in San Francisco and Seattle and the city hall in Minneapolis have all installed these sanctuaries.


It’s an attractive solution, and it’s not just because of the bee shortage or because it expiates our collective environmental guilt. It’s also because of the owners of One Bryant Park in New York found out it’s a really sweet system.

“The Durst Organization gives the honey produced by the bees to its tenants, roof to table,” Wagner said.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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