The Sweet Hereafter: Honey from Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

From the grave to the table, this honey is produced by Green-Wood’s bees and sold exclusively at the cemetery gates.
Green-Wood Cemetery beehives
Beekeeper Davin Larson tends to bees in Green-Wood Cemetery.

Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place of over 560,000 New Yorkers, including famous artists, composers, politicians, and more. According to the website, “Everyone who was anybody in 19th-century New York wanted to be buried there, and they were.”

In the spring of 2015 Green-Wood also became home to several hundred thousand more lively residents: A colony of honey bees. The project was thought up by beekeeper Davin Larson several years ago when, while attending a classical music concert at the cemetery surrounded by graves, crypts, and Gothic revival architecture, he realized it was the perfect place to keep bees in the city.

Green-Wood brought in 15 hives in hopes of combating the recent rise of colony collapse disorder, a crisis believed to be created by a combination of many factors including urbanization, pesticides, antibiotics, and pathogens, that wipes out roughly one third of hives every year. When a colony collapses, the adult worker bees abandon the hive. They vanish, leaving behind the queen, as well as the food supplies, for reasons not yet understood.

Of course, keeping bees has its costs. To fund the project, Larson and the other Green-Wood beekeepers harvested about 200 pounds of honey this year. It was processed, jarred, and labeled with an image of a honey bee on a gravestone.

Jars of The Sweet Hereafter honey from Green-Wood Cemetery
The Sweet Hereafter honey available onsite at Green-Wood Cemetery only. via @historicgreenwood

‘The Sweet Hereafter’ is currently available for purchase exclusively onsite at Green-Wood’s 25th Street Gothic Arch entrance.

Green-Wood Cemetery in fall
Green-Wood Cemetery

Telling the Bees

Throughout history honey bees have been symbolic of human mortality. In mythology, the bee was often a sacred insect that bridged the natural world with the afterlife. Honey bees served as the royal emblem of the Merovingians, symbolizing death and rebirth for the dynasty that ruled France for 300 years.

In Victorian times, the superstition arose that if bees were not informed about the death of their keeper, they might leave or die. Some traditions involved offerings of biscuits from the funeral, decorating the hives in mourning bunting, or turning the hives to face the procession.

For more on the odd folklore of “telling the bees,” watch this installment of Caitlin Doughty’s Ask a Mortician:

Morbid Curiosities: Book Launch at the Morbid Anatomy Museum

Join author Paul Gambino at the Morbid Anatomy Museum with collectors featured in his new book Morbid Curiosities: Collections of the Uncommon and the Bizarre.
Morbid Curiosities book by Paul Gambino
The collection of Ryan and Regina Cohn featured in Morbid Curiosities.

Date: Monday, November 14th
Time: 7pm
Admission: $5
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY

The Morbid Anatomy Museum is presenting an evening with author Paul Gambino and the collectors featured in his new book Morbid Curiosities, including Calvin Von Crush, Ryan Matthew Cohn, D.L. Marian, Dani Devereux, Daniel Erenberg, and Nathan Roberts.

From the event description:

Hosted by Evan Michelson (who is also featured in the book) the evening would be a dynamic, informative, and entertaining glimpse into the world of serious collecting of the macabre from a diverse group of collectors.

Topics to be introduced and discussed will include the obligatory How did you get started in this niche of collecting? and What was the oddest item you have ever had in your collection or have seen in someone elses collection? to the more sophisticated areas like Have you ever turned down a piece because of moral or ethical reasons? and What have been some of the recent consequences of collectors who sell illegal and/or stolen items online.

Each of the six collectors will bring their own unique spin on a group of collectors who many lay people have painted with a broad brush. In addition to the Roundtable section of the evening, the collectors will also bring three of their favorite pieces to put on display and discuss with the audience.

A collection of wax anatomical models featured in Morbid Curiosities

Morbid Curiosities is featured on the Cult of Weird Fall Reading List.

Buy it on Amazon right here.

Used Casket Left on Street in Brooklyn

Old coffin covered in mud found on the street in Brooklyn with human remains and trash inside. Police found no sign of vandalized graves in nearby cemeteries.
Old casket found on the street in Brooklyn with human remains inside

Police responded to an odd 911 call on Wednesday – someone was very unhappy to find an old coffin in the spot where they normally park their car. Inside the dried mud-covered coffin, officers found human bones and trash. It was determined to be about 25 years old.

A search of nearby cemeteries revealed no disturbed graves.

The area is apparently a common dumping ground for unwanted furniture, but according to the NYPD 83rd Precinct, dumping a coffin is “not cool.”

Maybe someone was just doing some spring cleaning and decided to get rid of that weird old coffee table….

via New York

Vendors Bring the Weird to the Morbid Anatomy Museum Spring Flea Market

Where do you go to find skeletons, bone saws, vintage books, jewelry and other weird things? The Morbid Anatomy Museum’s spring flea market was the place to find it last weekend.

Last Sunday the Morbid Anatomy Museum held their first flea market of the year, which featured bones, skulls, and other weird things from a variety of vendors.

The Morbid Anatomy Spring Flea Market at the Morbid Anatomy Museum (424-A Third Avenue) in Brooklyn was born from French expat Laetitia Barbier’s memories of hitting up flea markets on Sundays in Paris, which were full of all sorts of items, from the traditional to the strange (strange as in, full skeletons).

“When I was in Paris I would go to the flea market all the time,” Barbier says. “It’s an afternoon of fun, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”

She’s done her part to bring that experience to the Morbid Anatomy Museum, where she’s head librarian and program director, organizing the flea every few months between March and Christmas. This past Sunday was the first flea of the year, which included nine vendors who sold a variety of items, from antiques and old books to jewelry made of bones and live taxidermy.

via The Village Voice

Morbid Anatomy Museum spring flea market

Morbid Anatomy Museum

Morbid Anatomy Museum

The week before Halloween, I came home to find a package on my doorstep. Inside were the items pictured above: A Morbid Anatomy Museum t-shirt, a copy of the Morbid Anatomy Anthology, and a thank you postcard from New York’s new institution of the bizarre.

Earlier in the year Morbid Anatomy launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for renovations at their new Brooklyn location. Fortunately, Cult of Weird was able to contribute (extremely modestly) to the creation of an amazing place full of fascinating and macabre history.

The museum frequently hosts exhibits such as the current Art of Mourning, as well as lectures with guest speakers, taxidermy classes with Katie Innamorato and Divya, and much more.

Morbid Anatomy Anthology and other weird books
The Morbid Anatomy Anthology looks great on my bookshelf.

Check out the Morbid Anatomy website here: