Every fruit and vegetable that begins with a blossom grows because of the work of honey bees, and every jar of honey is filled because of the pollinators’ visits to flowers.
At the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, this sweet partnership is cause for celebration. That’s exactly what’s on tap Aug. 12 and 13 at the society’s Garden at Elm Bank, 900 Washington St., Wellesley.
The organization is hosting a Food Truck & Raw Honey Tasting event, 10 am to 4 pm both days, highlighting honey made by bees all around New England — including at the Elm Bank garden.
Meghan Connolly, a marketing and communications coordinator for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, said it’s the first time the society has held such an event. It is being held in cooperation with Bees and Thank You, a Massachusetts-based organization that aims to promote “a communal attitude and response towards stopping deforestation and the rapid decline of bees,” and to educate people about the importance of honey bees and other pollinators “and their active role in consumer culture.”
As part of their work, Connolly explained, “they set up and manage hives in different locations.”
Two hives were set up at Elm Bank earlier this year, which have since been split to make four hives in total, she noted. This weekend’s event, she said, is “going to be the first time we get to taste the honey from here, as well as the other local hives that they have.”
Grilled cheese and honey, please
Bees and Thank You got their start from grilled cheese. That’s right, grilled cheese. With honey. Connolly said it turns out to be quite tasty, and much sought after when the Bees and Thank You food truck rolls up. Proceeds from every grilled cheese and honey sandwich help with the organization’s work to fight the decline of honey bees by opening bee sanctuaries around New England — they opened their first in 2020.
Visitors to the honey tasting will get a chance to try out the sweet and savory sandwiches, as the food truck will be on site. At the event, the sandwiches will be made with honey from the Elm Bank garden’s hard-working bees.
“It’s beautiful,” Connolly said of the sandwich, and the Bees and Thank You Mission.
The event will also highlight Bees and Thank You’s BeeWell Box, a subscription service that features honey made by bees at their own and partner farms around New England.
The Food Truck & Raw Honey Tasting event is open to the public. Both the Bees and Thank You food truck and the honey tasting will take place just outside the Garden at Elm Bank. Visitors can then choose to visit the garden if they wish — the entry fee for the garden is $10 per person, free for members of the horticultural society.
The organizers encourage people to come try the good food and learn about the benefits of honey, and about all things bees. There will also be vendors set up selling local handmade products and visitors can learn more about how to help build bee sanctuaries.
Busy bees make all kinds of honey, but they are imperiled
According to the National Honey Board, there are upwards of 300 types of honey that can be had in the US The flavor and color of honey all depends on what types of flowers the bees making the honey do their foraging among.
Honey color goes from nearly clear to dark golden brown, with the flavor generally getting stronger the darker the honey is.
Bees provide all kinds of benefits, as does their product. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, they are a precious resource that needs protection.
“Over the past several years, the population of important pollinators has declined in the United States and internationally. Pollinators play a key role in agriculture, since the majority of native plants require pollination by bees or other pollinating animals,” the agency says on its website.
In 2014, a Pollinator Task Force was established with a goal to develop strategies “to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators” — a strategy, the agency said, that “aims to reverse the declining pollinator populations through actions by federal departments and agencies.”
The EPA promotes taking the following steps to protect pollinators:
Think locally: Incorporate native species of flowering plants suitable for local climate and region to attract and benefit local pollinators. Use the Pollinator Partnership’s Ecoregional Planting Guides or download the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder to get started.
Cut down on cutting: Reduce mowing and allow flowering groundcover to remain in the lawn as forage for pollinators.
Leave these for the bees: Leave plant stalks and other organic materials in place during fall garden maintenance; wait to conduct outdoor spring cleanup until after pollinators appear.