City’s beekeeping organizations fighting over similar names

Written By kom nampuldu on Minggu, 22 Maret 2015 | 18.18

This New York turf battle has plenty of buzz.

One of the Big Apple's leading beekeeping groups is ready to sting its top rival — the most serious salvo in a longstanding drone war.

Tensions between the NYC Beekeepers Association and NYC Beekeeping has been building for years, sources said, but NYCBA really bugged out when NYC Beekeeping referred to itself as, "The NYC Beekeeping Association" while promoting an educational course earlier this year.

The NYCBA immediately made a beeline for its lawyer, Delia McCabe.

"Any confusingly similar name or mark is a violation of our client's rights and will not be tolerated," she told The Post.

The NYCBA's king bee, Andrew Coté, said the rival group's actions are more than just professional discourtesy.

"Some at the other group inexplicably have such open and obvious disdain for the NYCBA and for me … common sense would dictate that they would not want to purposely be misidentified/confused with the NYCBA," he said.

"It's embarrassing that there are such fractured relations in beekeeping in the city," added Coté, who lives on the Upper West Side.

Bee Keeper Andrew CotéPhoto: James Messerschmidt

Coté was a member of the NYC Beekeepers, which formed in 2006. But when he created the NYCBA because he wanted a more "professional' outfit — the NYC Beekeepers booted him from their hive.

"After much hard thought, I have come to the sad conclusion that it's not possible for you and members of your beekeeping association to be both in the [group] and in competition with us, intentionally or not, at the same time. It just doesn't work," Coté was told in a 2009 letter.

Beekeeping became legal in the city in 2010 — before then, keepers had to be discrete while tending to their brood. Today, there are 100 registered beekeepers and 277 registered hives, according to the Health Department.

Both volunteer groups do pretty much the same thing — tend to hives, teach classes, and sometimes respond to bee emergencies, which has led to clashes. In 2011, for example, both responded to a wayward hive in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, and feuded over who should claim the insects.

Coté with his bee hives on top of a roofPhoto: J.C. Rice

"I was more interested to see how they would solve the problem," recalled Coté. "But all I saw was him and his group eventually leave without the bees."

Individual members may sell the honey produced by their own hives; both groups also maintain training hives at assorted locations throughout the city, atop private buildings and Parks Department properties.

But NYC Beekeepers' James Fisher said the possible legal challenge is all about money — not honey.

"Every town has someone out to make a quick buck," said Fischer, an Upper East Sider who said his group offers free classes, unlike the NYCBA, which charges $200 for a four-session course, and asks for a $25 a year donation for membership.

Coté says he doesn't make a dime from the 250-member group.

"We're just tired of being confused with this other group. There's no animosity in our heart," Coté said.

NYCBA, which operates under the non-profit Bees Without Borders, trademarked its name in 2013, but NYC Beekeeping says it their his 900-member group that used the word "association" from its inception.

"Any attempt to gain "fame" or "fortune" in an obscure and humble pursuit like beekeeping is such a ridiculous concept, we see Mr. Cote's attempts at self-promotion to be sad proof that the bees have taught him nothing, as the first thing bees teach is humility." NYC Beekeeping's board of directors said in a statement.


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