UPPER WEST SIDE — With an open Bible in hand, the Rev. Mark Sisk stood in front of a buzzing hive outside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine Tuesday and offered the church's first Blessing of the Bees.
Sisk, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, drew parallels between the bees in the hive and New Yorkers in the bustling city, saying that both rely on community and cooperation.
"As we gather to bless these bees, your own blessed creatures, may the intensity of their self-offering lives awake in us a reminder of the fruitfulness that such self-offering promises to yield in our own human community," he read aloud from a blessing he created for the occasion.
"I’m somebody who believes deeply that we’re part of a natural order and there are neat symbols of our connections," Sisk added later. "Bees are a particularly good symbol of that connection."
Nicole Toutounji, of the Upper West Side, tends the hive at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
After taking beekeeping classes for two years, Toutounji said she is proud to look after the church's hive of more than 1,500 Italian honey bees from the organization NYC Beekeeping.
"This is a baby hive — it's in its first year," she said, pulling out a journal with sparkly bee stickers to note the date the hive was built.
Although she is not a member of the church, Toutounji said she could not think of a better place for a beehive than the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
"The grounds are magnificent. They care about sustainability. There [is] something very blessed here," she said. "They keep God’s creation in good repair."