This past Sunday I had the opportunity to visit Red Bee Honey in Weston, Connecticut on my first outing with CT Bloggers. It was a great afternoon getting to meet fellow Connecticut lovers and getting to sample some of the best honey (and cheese!) I’ve ever had.
When I first arrived the rain had thankfully let up and I was greeted by some feathery friends. We were there for the bees, but the chickens made sure they got plenty of attention too. I had no idea that chickens “talked” or burrowed into the dirt, they did plenty of both to show me. The chickens also lived in a coop that’s nicer than my apartment. See coop chandelier below as proof.
While we waited for everyone to arrive we were given free range (chicken pun) of the backyard and to ask any questions we might have before officially starting. I used the opportunity to wander through the garden which, of course, had its own chandelier and provided us with fresh greens for our lunch.
The rain had let up, but the weather was still oppressively hot and humid. Like me, the bees do not appreciate that kind of weather and we were warned to give them plenty of space. Prior to arriving at the farm, I had received a text from a friend that she was trapped in her apartment because wasps had taken residence outside her front door in Queens. I did not need to be told twice to give the bees their distance.
Owner, Carla Marina Marchese’s love of bees first began in 2000 when she visited a neighbor and learned of his interesting hobby. Once she tasted the fresh honey she did not look back. Let me tell you, Marina is one cool lady with an awesome sense of style and design. She’s also authored two books and has started several American honey organizations. Check our her about me for even more information on this awesome woman.
Some fun bee facts:
- Bees were pilgrims too, some came over on the Mayflower
- Each box you see has their own queen
- the queen will leave once to mate with drone bees
- During the summer the queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day
- Queen bees live 2-5 years
- Male bees are called drones, their only purpose is to mate with the queen at which time they….expire
- Female bees produce the honey
- Colonies will raise up several queen bees as a survival mechanism
- Bees are responsible for your juicy delicious fruits and veggies!
After our bee tour we headed inside the newly built barn for a honey tasting and lunch. When you look at the picture below we started with the light honey on the left and worked our way to the darkest on the right. Each honey went with a food pairing that started in the 12 o’clock position then continued clock-wise.
Pairing 1: Linden Honey with soft goat cheese, lemon zest, mint, pollen, and walnut
Pairing 2: Red berry honey with blue cheese and date
Pairing 3: Opaque crystal honey with apples and tahini
Pairing 4: Blueberry honey paired with blueberries and Brie
Pairing 5: Buckwheat honey paired with roasted tomatoes and balsamic
Every pairing was delicious! I am a known hater of blue cheese but I actually ate and enjoyed the whole helping. My favorite pairing was the first with the goat cheese and lemon zest. This summer I have been all about lemons and limes!
Another fun fact I learned was that honey takes on the taste of what flowers the bees are pollinating. This is what leads to color, consistency, and taste variations.
Lunch followed the tasting and it came complete with a Honey Kolsch from Half Full Brewing of Stamford that makes this beer with honey from Red Bee. It was amazing! Our egg salad sandwiches were made from eggs produced by the chickens outside and the salad was picked fresh when we first arrived. It really was a farm to table meal.
Lastly, dessert. Chocolate covered honey comb. So delicious.
We wrapped up the day downstairs in the barn. I couldn’t pass up buying some of the linden honey we had tried earlier and a few other goodies. I’ll be doing a post later this week with some of my current favorite items. The goods I picked up here will be taking up most of that post!
Marina was a fabulous host and everyone there worked so hard to provide us with an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to visiting again next month to help harvest honey!
Remember, bees are so vital to our way of life. If you love fresh fruits and veggies make sure to support your local bee keepers, they are playing an important role in trying to revive the scarily dwindling bee populations.
No bees= no food!
Have you ever visited a bee apiary? Any hobby beekeepers out there?