We all know that bees are vital to our survival. They make our all our food happen! Bees are also endlessly fascinating, romantic, and the makers of the most shelf-stable food on the planet – while man cannot live on bread alone, we might be able to live off bees and their honey. Enter September - honey month! Regardless of your interest level in honey – from “I just put it in my tea every once in a while,” to, “I want to devote my life to bees, honey, and wax!”, the Catskills and Hudson Valley have honey resources for you. This September we’re taking a little tour of the honey landscape round-about – we’ve even got some property recommendations if you want to become a hobbyist beekeeper or start your own full-blown, for-profit apiary.
Just let that land for a minute. Honey is precious stuff!
For Casual Honey Fans:
If you’re one of the, “I just put honey in my tea every once in a while,” crowd but you want to do it with local honey, or your allergist has prescribed local honey to keep congestion at bay, you have so many options; here’s a sprinkling…
Hudson Valley Apiary
Hudson Valley Apiaries has a very simple mission that we love. “For us, the honey our bees produce is more than a food product; it is a natural resource that goes far beyond making that yogurt or tea sweeter. From the natural health benefits to the pollination of local crops, quite simply, our bees help us help others."
Damn Good Honey Farm
Damn Good Honey Farm has a farm stand in Kerhonkson where you can pick up a bounty of Rondout Valley produce – everything from flowers to pattypan squash to tomatoes to flaky, delicious, farm-fresh tarts. YUM! Oh, did I say they have crazy doughnuts? They have CRAZY doughnuts.
Phoenicia Honey Co.
Phoenicia Honey Co honey and other products can be found at a long list of stores in the area (check their website). They make a First Aid honey that harkens to honey’s anti-microbial properties and is infused with healing medicinal plants. Take it to boost your immune system!
Local Honey Recipes:
As precious as honey is, you may want to be intentional about how you cook with and eat it. Homemade salad dressings almost always benefit from a teaspoon or two of local honey. Drizzling honey over freshly-made biscuits or goat cheese (here’s a blog article with lots of local sources for cheese) is always super delicious. But I wanted to give you something less pedestrian to make that also originates from local sources. Here’s what I found….
Honey Cake With Goat Cheese Frosting & Figs
I love this blog post and its gorgeous photos from baking blogger “Kim” from New Jersey. She’s not a local, but she came to visit her sister in the Catskills and used local resources (some straight from her sister’s garden) to create this amazing looking Honey Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Figs.
Honey Chunk Trail Mix
What could be better to sustain you on a fall afternoon than some trail mix made with local ingredients? Valley Table Magazine has given us a recipe. I’d double the batch if I were you – I don’t imagine this lasts long.
I know how excited everyone is about pumpkin time. On a road-trip during the third week in August, I felt pumpkin spice bearing down on me like a mac truck on a confused squirrel from a HUGE Dunkin Doughnuts billboard. America! You WILL love pumkin! This recipe for Pumpkin Honey Bread from Hudson Valley Magazine bridges the gap between September and October in a way that makes complete sense and doesn’t make me feel bossed around. It works for breakfast, snack and desert!
For Bee Lovers:
So many people move to the Catskills and Hudson Valley so that they can live their best life; making their extra-curricular activities central to their day-to-day. If you’re inspired to become a beekeeper you’re going to need three things: advice, supplies, and some land that will support your hives.
Luckily, extra-curricular clubs for grown-ups are a thing in this region. There are groups for everything from ice yachting on The Hudson to mushroom hunting to beekeeping! Both these clubs seek out and welcome new members:
Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Club
With more than 130 members, this club has very clear objectives: serve as a resource for beekeepers, educate the community, provide an outlet for members to sell, and foster interactions with the agricultural community.
When it comes to supplies you have options too:
Hudson Valley Bee Supply has an incredible variety of fascinating tools, bee foods and medicines, clothing to wear at your hives or when you want to wear your bee and honey love on your sleeve about-town. They’re located in Kingston on Sawkill Road.
This niche business makes my heart glow! Larry's Backyard Bees in Newburgh, which I mentioned above, sells every type of pertinent equipment and also offers services for homeowners, business owners, and farmers. Don’t spray (and kill) a swarm of bees on your property or in one of your buildings, call Larry’s and they’ll relocate them safely to one of their bee boxes. For farmers, they offer small-scale pollination services.
Now... for the land!
Bees like specific conditions, and if you want healthy bees, you want to give them what they like! They need shelter from the wind, forage, and water; here’s a quick article with some specific detail. When looking for a beekeeping property, you want to find a large enough parcel with meadow where plants are already bee-friendly or where you’ll be willing to plant bee-friendly forage, a place for the hives that is open and dry but also safe from the wind, and a natural water source or space for a water source that you’ll provide.
Here are six listings that were active at the time of publishing and which (while I’m not a bee expert) look like good bee-bets.
Celebrate The Honey!
We’re not the only ones taking note of September’s “Honey Month” status. The town of Narrowsburg is hosting a Honey Bee Festival on September 24th. It sound like a delightful way to spend the day and celebrate the bees!