Here at Inhabitat, we often talk about how important bees are to the environment and how much their survival is being threatened by things like pesticides, infections and habitat encroachment. Martha Stewart, queen of all things related to the home, is concerned about the plight of the bee as well. That’s why in this month’s magazine she is talking about her own bee hives and offering tips to readers who want to keep their own.
The appeal of adding fresh honey to the pantry—and the benefits to our own food supply—has resulted more and more people keeping bees. Martha, with her knack for homegrown goodness, has been on the bee bandwagon for years. Now, she wants to help educate people on the importance of what she calls “these mysterious, somewhat frightening, awe-inspiring benefactors of nature.”
Beekeeping, as Martha puts it, has “something so romantic” about it that she was simply compelled to own her own hives. She got started with the help of Ed Weiss, a local beekeeping expert and author of The Queen and I, a sort of beekeeper’s bible. Ed was somewhat unique in the beekeeping world in that he not only taught new beekeepers, he also was able to provide the supplies to get Martha started. Ed and his wife Anita also started an organization called the Back Yard Beekeepers Association which provides helpful information and resources for new and existing beekeepers. After establishing her own colony, she uses her homegrown honey in fruitcakes, cookies, ice cream and tarts, even salad dressings, and hundreds of other recipes which can be found on her website.
As Martha writes, when she first started keeping bees, things were a bit easier than they are now. Bees have few natural enemies, and they largely take care of themselves and their hive. Lately, however, with the epidemic hive failures and disappearance of many colonies, beekeepers have new concerns about maintaining their hives. In fact, Martha’s own colony has experienced a collapse over the years as her own bees left in a “mass exodus,” and she had to re-establish much of the colony within her four hives, prompting her to send out her message to all other would-be keepers out there.
With her now years of experience keeping bees, Martha is somewhat of an expert on her own, but she still finds that she needs help on occasion. Some of the resources that she suggests for other bee keepers are Dadant & Sons for supplies, and D.J. Haverkamp for instruction and hive-maintenance services. With the right equipment, and helpful resources like these, prospective beekeepers can join Martha Stewart in keeping their own hives and helping to protect precious bee colonies.
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Photographs by Paul Costello. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright ©2013. For more, check out www.marthastewart.com