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Meet the beekeeper protecting pollinators in Far Rockaway, Queens


By Elle McLogan

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — At a photoshoot on a farm in Upstate New York, professional model Thomas Castro found himself surrounded by goats, chickens, and bees. He became inspired.

“I thought to myself, I want that,” he said.

He brought a piece of farm life home to Far Rockaway by becoming a beekeeper, seeking out information from experienced mentors and YouTube tutorials.

His Italian honey bees live in the backyard of his childhood home, housed in boxes colorfully decorated by friends from the neighborhood.

“Making the boxes for him feels super inclusive,” artist Rogelio Bayne said.

Now, he’s jarring Castro’s Honey, which ranges in color from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on the season.

“He makes it look easy,” Castro’s girlfriend Karina Matos said. “Everyone around him is like, ‘How can I get started?'”

It has become his calling to protect New York City’s pollinators, which protect animal habitats and food sources, keeping the ecosystem humming.

He says his bees even remember him—sometimes.

“They do have facial recognition,” he said. “But a bee’s lifespan is 40 days, so you’ll have some new babies that do want to attack you.”

Although they become protective, he says bees don’t wish to cause harm.

“You don’t really have to be afraid of them. They kind of see you like you see them,” he said.

Apprehensive at first, Castro’s family has come to take pride in the backyard bees.

“Now, the bees are my children as well. I’m in love with them,” Castro’s mother Nancy Martinez said. “They go about their little business, making their honey, and it’s just nice. We’re helping the world, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

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