Sean Flynn, the owner and proprietor of Boogie Down Bronx Honey, a locally-sourced beekeeping and honeymaking organization started in 2020 and based in New York City, is nothing if not engaging. From the first words spoken — “What’s up, my brother! I’m feeling groovy!” — Flynn makes the conversation with Garden & Health more of a rap session about life and life’s passions than a clinical breakdown of the ins and outs of the bee business.
When asked to explain how he became interested in beekeeping in 2015 and what brought him to start Boogie Down Bronx Honey, the former military police officer and current executive protection agent starts at the very beginning.
“I never in a million years thought I was gonna be a beekeeper. Never, never, never, never, never. So my background is pretty much, pretty much law enforcement, executive protection, and then … child care,” he adds, laughing before continuing.
“I used to own three daycares. So, I was a family babysitter growing up, the firstborn male in the family. So, everything was pretty much on my shoulders. But I raised all these kids, and all these years, it’s always been natural to me.”
This journey might seem like a circuitous path to honeymaking. However, Flynn’s love of serving youth, particularly his children, led him to another hobby that led him to another pursuit that led him to become the bee man of the Bronx.
Laughing again — Flynn is always laughing when spinning a yarn — he references the AMC TV show “The Walking Dead” when explaining how he came to be a “prepper,” a survivalist, and how that took him to another interest in his way to becoming an apiarist: archery. To teach his daughters to be resourceful, he started to teach them to shoot bows and arrows in his apartment, down the hallway.
“Remember, they have to be a viable citizen in this apocalyptic community!” he chuckles and explains. “So, we were going to a competition, we went on the subway, and there was an ad for, for beekeeping.”
Typically, Flynn doesn’t just view beekeeping, or any interest, in purely clinical terms but as a way to understand life and the world around him.
“I’ve always been into the hive mentality where everyone in the collective is working for the … the individuals are working for the collective,” he says. “That’s always been fascinating how everyone should be individuals who work for the greater good, for the whole. And that’s what bees, ants … it’s a collective like that. That’s how they work: everything is for future generations.”
Here, Flynn’s voice gets very serious, and one can tell what comes next is very important for him to explain. “A honeybee only lives six weeks. Anything it’s doing is for bees that it will never know. You know, I think there’s a thing where a wise man planted a tree. So that, you know, three generations, three grandkids could sit in the shade of the tree. And — he planted it for everyone else.”
Flynn is a person who dives headfirst into his passions, and beekeeping is no different. He installed hives in the spare bedroom of his apartment in the Bronx, and Boogie Down Bronx Honey was born, first as a hobby and then as a side business.
Not even that he is highly allergic to bee stings slows him down. With a huge grin in his voice, he explains his seeming nonchalance with fairly serious allergic reactions to bee venom.
“Yeah, for most people working with venomous creatures, you know, the more you’re exposed to the venom, the less reactive you are,” Flynn says. “For some reason, I’m doing this Benjamin Button thing, living life in reverse, and each sting I get it’s worse and worse!”
But even that can’t slow down Sean Flynn. “I’m a bee guy! I like the zen. A beehive, to me, is like a box of zen. It’s relaxing. It chills you out. It’s freaking cool!”