If you go to farmers’ markets, there’s a good chance you’ll find a beekeeper among the purveyors of fresh local food. That’s how Marina Marchese got her start in the honey business.
The author of Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper, and more recently, The Honey Connoisseur has been a bee fan since she was introduced to her first hive by a next door neighbor, a beekeeping hobbyist, in Weston. Some lessons from local beekeepers and a few stings later, she decided that raising bees and making honey was a way off the Manhattan corporate treadmill. After starting her own apiary — the saga she relates in her first book — and selling honey at local farmers’ markets, her increasing interest led her to explore the world of the bees, and the many varieties of honey that have been sweetening human palates for thousands of years.
Beekeeper Marina Marchese displays her bees’ handiwork.
While much of the honey sold at farmers’ markets comes from local beekeepers and is made by area bees from a variety of flowers — and thus called “wildflower” honey — discerning honey lovers should try tasting honey that is made by beekeepers who make a living by pollination of large single crops: alfalfa (much of the east and Midwest); blueberry (Maine and other blueberry growing states); buckwheat (as dark in color as motor oil, harvested mainly in upstate New York); orange blossom (Florida and California orchards), and others. Commercial beekeepers literally truck their bees and hives to fields where crops need pollination during their flowering period, and the result is a honey that is distinctive in its flavor — and delicious.
Marchese, who has traveled the world in search of new varietal honeys to taste, has developed a number of contacts among beekeepers/pollinators, and thus has access to a number of different honeys, which she packages under her company name, Red Bee. In addition to jars of varietal honeys, she sells pure beeswax candles and a variety of health and beauty products made with honey.
Interested in learning to taste honey? Marina’s second book — The Honey Connoisseur — has all the background you’ll need to DIY. Watch Marchese’s website for upcoming honey events.
As to local farmers’ markets, both Westport and Greenwich farmers’ markets offer honey from Norwalk’s Silvermine Apiary.
Honey made from nectar that is gathered by bees from specific sources. Shown here, left to right: buckwheat, goldenrod, alfalfa, tulip poplar, and blueberry blossom honeys.