Producer Spotlight: Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary
The buzz in this week’s blog is all about Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary - the producer of the raw honey products that the Hidden Camp Farm Store has offered since June 2020. The farm is family owned and operated by Paul MacPhil and his wife Maria Marcucci. The land was specifically chosen for this purpose when the farm was established in 2014. Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary occupies 183 acres of land very near the Hudson River, in Schodack Landing, New York. Organic methods are also utilized for raising bees, as well as: boarding horses, growing elderberries, and growing alfalfa crops.
Paul and Maria are both Master Beekeepers, graduates of Cornell University’s Certificate Program. Given their extensive knowledge of bee biology and their experience, their successful beekeeping has grown their hive population to 80 honey bee colonies on their property and to expand beyond the borders of their acreage. Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary has agreements with 3 dozen other farms in New York State, where bees are permanently placed. This is beneficial to the farms as well as the surrounding areas, as bees are capable of travelling in a 10 mile diameter from their hive. Produce farmers with bees residing on their land, have reported increases in their harvest - thanks to the critical task of pollinating crops, that bees complete. The bees also improve the health of surrounding gardens, pastures, and forests; as they pollinate an array of flowers and plants.Paul MacPhail grew up next door to the property that is now Hidden Camp Farm.
Paul was raised on a dairy farm adjacent to Hidden Camp Farm, a residence that his mother occupies today. The King Family has been glad to have Mrs. MacPhail as a neighbor since they first met in 2009, and the King Family has also been able to make hay on some of Mrs. MacPhail’s acreage in recent years. Paul MacPhail has announced that in 2021 he will be bringing bees to this property, and Hidden Camp Farm is excited for the benefit they will provide to our pastures and the animals that depend upon them. Some of Paul’s criteria for placement of bees include: a clean water source, lack of nearby pesticides and chemicals, and lack of GMO crops. We are happy that as a neighbor, we can satisfy these criteria.
Focusing on the welfare of bees yields a number of sweet results.
Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary primarily raises the Carniolan variety of honey bees, in part due to their ability to survive the lengthy New York winter season. A responsible beekeeper knows that the bees will need a lot of honey to survive winter, 100 pounds of honey should not be harvested but rather left in the hive. By providing them with enough fuel, the colony will be able to keep the interior of the hive at an ideal temperature for their queen - more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, throughout winter.
By continually monitoring the health of their colonies, Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary has been able to achieve very high winter survival rates; which well positions them for expansion in the spring. The success of the breeding program has also allowed them to sell queen bees and established colonies, further supporting a population that has been under intense environmental stress.
Studies indicate that humans have benefitted from utilizing honey in topical treatment of wounds for some 2,700 years. Honey has also been used in the treatment of a sore throat, to mitigating the impact of seasonal allergies, and a welcome alternative to other refined sweeteners.
The health and wellness of the bees is evident in the honey that they produce.
Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary believes that both the quality and quantity of honey increase, when healthy bees are able to thrive. The honey they offer is considered Raw, as it is only strained to remove any wax particles. Because they do not heat treat any honey, all of the pollen and antioxidant properties of the honey remain in their finished product.
Honey is harvested several times per year, allowing the MacPhail’s to offer honey that mirrors the seasonal flora that the bees consume. The Spring Wildflower liquid honey is the earliest honey of the season - light in both color and flavor. The Amber liquid honey is harvested during summer, offering a darker hue derived from abundant clover and wildflowers. Lastly is the Dark Amber liquid honey, owing this color to Asters, Goldenrod, and Sunflowers. Paul carefully sources barrels from Kentucky, which previously held bourbon for a lengthy number of years. By utilizing a proprietary technique that ages honey in the barrels for several months, the honey gains additional depth of flavor - a truly unique product.
Another specialty of Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary is their Creamed Honey product line. These products are more firm than liquid honey, as crystallization occurs in the sugars. This process does not rely upon any cream, but does rely upon time - it takes 30 days to complete the slow churning process, in a temperature controlled environment. They utilize only organic ingredients to infuse the additional flavor in the Blueberry, Lemon, Strawberry, Cinnamon and Chocolate variations.
Please be sure to check out the Elderberry Syrup, Lip Balm, and the honey products mentioned above here in the Hidden Camp Farm Store!