From office to apiary at Falls Village farm
FALLS VILLAGE — When Beekeeper Dan Carr talks about beekeeping in one of his courses, he typically covers the anatomy and social structure of honey bees as well as the basics of starting and managing a hive.
With almost two decades of experience as a beekeeper, Carr has been teaching beekeeping courses for years at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester, New York, at the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm in New York City, and at his family farm, Beavertides Farm in Falls Village.
In one of his courses, he met Marleen Van Gulick, who had been keeping bees for a couple of years in a small garden in New York City and enrolled in one of Carr’s courses to learn more.
Van Gulick had been fermenting, baking, and growing vegetables in her landlord’s yard, while living in the city. She even learned pig butchering while still being a vegetarian and was yearning for country life.
“A few years ago, I was working in an office in New York City, dreaming of more community, more freedom, eating great food that I’d grow and prepare, and of knowing how to take care of myself in a more natural setting,” she says.
Van Gulick was intrigued by how bee communities form, balance with the natural world, and by the art of managing a hive resulting in delicious, sweet honey.
Van Gulick got more than a beekeeping education. She and Carr found a connection, and soon afterward, the couple made for the country and started Beavertides Farm in Falls Village, a sustainable livestock farm and apiary that has pastures, woodlands and wetlands.
“We had two baby boys, started with an apiary, raised chickens and ducks, and quickly expanded production with a herd of meat goats and grass-fed beef cattle.
“We also managed an orchard that produced apples, pears, quince, peaches and much more,” Van Gulick said.
Today, Van Gulick and Carr focus on providing 100% grass fed meat from sustainably raised sheep and goats, honey and other bee-related products.
Starting in May, they will begin to teach a 10-session Beekeeper Training Course, as well as a Newbees class for the youngest beekeepers.
Carr’s courses cover everything from installing a beehive, harvesting honey and preparing for winter. Students are typically assigned to a hive to start and tend together with a course partner for the entire program. The course is designed to have participants feel comfortable enough to work a beehive by themselves by the end.
Students need to bring their own veil, beekeeping jacket or suit, a hive tool and smoker, and if desired, beekeeping gloves. Carr can recommend further gear after students sign up.
“Students learn about the connection between the bees and our pastures, about how our grazing practices offer opportunities for wildflowers to flourish, and how that provides our bees with a diverse forage. They see the different blooms throughout the season; the fruit trees, dandelions, clover, vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, asters, goldenrod and more, and may be able to recognize those blooms in the flavor of the honey at the end of the season,” Van Gulick says.
“If there is anything to learn from a colony of honeybees it is the importance of community, of connection, and being in tune with the seasons. We try to mimic these lessons within our beekeeping course and our farm as a whole,” she adds.
In addition, Beavertides Farm offers events, including farm tours, sharing their knowledge of beekeeping, animal husbandry and sustainable living. They even have a small cabin in the woods where campers can stay the night, visit the farm, and cook farm products on an old fashioned wood stove.
Beavertides Farm sells its meat in New York City, in northwestern Connecticut and directly from the farm.
For more information, see: www.beavertidesfarm.com or follow them on Instagram @beavertidesfarm.