Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon in Weston, Connecticut at Red Bee Apiary.
Marina, head beekeeper and the “Queen Bee”, and her associate Kristine were gracious enough to open the doors of Red Bee Apiary for not only a tour and we were also the first “official” visitors to their recently constructed and gorgeous rustic Red Bee Barn for a honey tasting and lovely locally sourced lunch.
I was doubly excited to visit Red Bee Apiary because as I am learning more about fueling for my long runs, honey keeps coming up as a simple yet solid energy source. It was even used by runnings during the Olympic Games in Greece. When I first started running, I loved those super sweet gels and Gu’s. Unfortunately, most of those are made with artificial flavors, dyes and preservatives, and although they gave me that “burst” of energy I was looking for, ultimately I came crashing down and it was not always pretty.
So what makes honey an ideal source of energy for runners??
- First off, honey is one of the simplest forms of carbohydrates. Its simple blend of natural, unrefined sugars actually take longer to digest than table sugar.
- It has been shown to boost antioxidant properties, fuels the growth of immune producing bacteria, and curb cholesterol.
- Honey has a great vitamin and mineral profile and is of free of artificial preservatives, fillers and dyes.
- Since most runners require about 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour while working out and one tablespoon of honey contains 17g of carbohydrate – .so two to three tablespoons every hour should keep your glycogen stores topped up (source).
- Lastly, honey’s natural unrefined sugars are easily absorbed by the body, giving runners that “burst” of energy without the crash associated by some other unnatural fueling options
Red Bee Apiary
Located in a gorgeous neighborhood in Weston, Connecticut, I entered the intricate and very appropriate gate behind which a working apiary greeted me. What’s more – it was like a cross between a zen retreat and a rustic farmhouse.
Robust chickens and roosters roamed the grounds while in the distance the low and constant sound of buzzing could be heard. I cast my eyes from the hives to the sky to see a literal “buzz” of activity. I had never been to an apiary before and to be honest the most I had seen have ever been 1 or 2 honey bees in my backyard so this was quite an experience to watch the flurry of activity that surrounded me.
After admiring the grounds and getting to meet some of the other bloggers whom were in attendance, Marina walked us through her journey of becoming a beekeeper and how Red Bee Honey has taken off in the 16 years since it’s inception. Some fun facts about Red Bee Honey –
- The bees at Red Bee Apiary are Italian Honey bees
- Marina started beekeeping 16 years ago when she visited a neighbor’s apiary and tasted fresh honey. She quit her job and started beekeeping with 1 hive which over the years has expanded to 8 working hives.
- The queen will leave the hive 1x to mate with 17-20 different drones (males) from other hives. When she returns to the hive, she will remain until she dies
- In the summer the Queen can lay about 2,000 eggs a day over the course of 3-5 years
- The female (not the male!) are the workers bees – they do everything from gather the pollen, make the honey comb and take care of the “kids”
- The males make up only about 10-15% of the hive. Their only job – mate with the Queen (and then die)
- Bees are important! Without them all those fruits and vegetables you enjoy would not “bee” possible. Bees are an important and integral part of our food chain.
After buzzing around the apiary and gorgeous vegetable garden (I forgot to ask for tips but her zucchinis were huge) our group headed to the “Red Bee” Barn, a gorgeous, rustic structure that houses their honey production, a small store, and an second floor used for classes, lecture, and tastings.
At Red Bee Apiary the majority of the honey that is produced is wildflower but she works with other apiaries to produce different varietals which are sold primarily on-line and shipped around the world.I had no idea that based on the floral source, the taste of honey can change like wine. For example if there are honey bees in an area where there are 7-8 acres of blueberries – blueberry flavored honey will be produced.
Red Bee Honey Tasting
Once we made our way to the second floor and were seated around a large farmhouse table overlooking the garden and apiary, it was time for a delicious honey tasting.
From left to right we tasted:
- Linden Honey – a light tasting honey paired with goat cheese and lemon zest
- Red Current Honey – a darker and roastier tasting honey paired with a slice of blue cheese and date
- Crystallized Clover Honey – What I did not know what that crystallized honey is a natural occurrence and the sign of good quality. This honey had a great spreading quality and was paired with tahini and apple slices. This would be a great evening snack.
- Blueberry Amber Honey – Perhaps my favorite of the ones we tasted. Delicious and earthy.
- Buckwheat Honey – This was the most intense honey I tasted. Dark and malty in flavor and paired with a roasted tomato and balsamic.
And just when I thought we were done – we were treated to a lovely light lunch of freshly picked greens lightly dressed with a honey, balsamic, grey poupon and oil dressing along with egg salad and cucumber dill finger sandwiches.
Big thanks to Marina, and Kristine for being the consummate hosts to our group and for providing us with an educational and rewarding experience!
Looking to learn more, visit them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or just reach out to them directly – I am sure Marina and Kristin would “bee” happy to have you visit.
The Red Bee Apiary
77 Lyons Plain Road,
Follow Red Bee Honey on social media!
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redbee
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RedBee
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/redbee/
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/redbee/
For more pictures of this event visit the
Disclaimer: Myself and several other bloggers were invited to this complimentary honey tasting by the Red Bee’s management and marketing team, however, all opinions (and tastings) are our own.