What’s happening at the market: all the buzz about Sequim Bee Farm
Sequim Bee Farm is passionate about pollinators! Owners Buddy and Meg Depew practice an unrelenting commitment to sustainable beekeeping and bee stewardship.
That passion, now the very essence of the couple’s livelihood, began three decades ago atop a parking lot at Providence Hospital in Seattle, where they both worked.
Buddy was informed that a swarm of bees had landed on his truck and a local beekeeper was on his way to come and move the swarm. The couple watched the relocation process in wonder.
“I just thought it was fascinating,” Meg said. “I just saw that the beekeeper had this connection to nature that most people don’t know.”
The opportunity to follow that interest arose when the Depews moved to Sequim and were given access to open land.
“I said, ‘Well, mate, what do you think about keeping bees? My common joke is that fifteen minutes and five hundred dollars later we were beekeepers, ”Meg recalls.
Sequim Bee Farm now has beehives everywhere, from Diamond Point to Port Angeles. The small business has an impressive array of honey varieties – wildflowers, blackberries, thistle, meadowfoam, buckwheat, clover, fireweed, lavender – all of which depend on beehives living in different fields rich in particular plants.
It is important for Depews that they maintain resident bees, which means that bees generally live in one place all their lives. This is distinct from the damaging practices observed among large-scale conventional honey producers.
“That’s what a lot of big beekeepers do, they literally transport their bees all over the country,” Meg said. “They go down to the almond fields of California, to the orange fields of Florida, and then they winter them in Minnesota.”
These poor bees are completely disoriented and the result is this depleted mono-food source. If we all went there and only ate almonds for six weeks, then oranges for six weeks, and nothing else, our health would also be badly affected!
There is a huge need for ethical small beekeepers. In the past year, the United States has lost 43 percent of its honey bee colonies. This is alarming news when it comes to human eating habits.
Three-quarters of the food we eat is directly impacted by bees, Meg said.
“The grain given to slaughter animals needs pollinators; chocolate, avocados and cotton for our clothes all have flowers that depend on bees, ”she said.
Although there are over 2,000 types of pollinators in the country, bees are distinguished by being the only ones to produce a food source for humans.
Unfortunately, the “honey” in your pantry may not be what the marketing has led you to believe.
Honey is the most counterfeit food product in the United States. Studies show that more than three-quarters of products labeled honey in conventional grocery stores are not related to bees at all.
Instead, misled shoppers buy an adulterated, reconstituted blend of the pure product mixed with inexpensive, unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup.
There is no way to tell if honey is pure except by looking under a microscope at the pollen grains suspended in the liquid. These grains are often filtered from the final product, which means it’s almost impossible to tell if you’ve purchased a bee product or an unhealthy knockoff disguised under the same name.
It’s impossible, unless you know your local beekeeper.
The Depews, in their fifth year at the market, are passionate about their mission to bring their healthy, pure honey and bee products to the community.
In addition to Sequim Bee Farm’s eight deliciously distinctive honey varieties, market guests will also find other bee products to purchase: handcrafted beeswax candles, lip balms, food grade wood polish. and even Paw Balm – a moisturizer for animals and humans.
“The market is where you can get fresh food and support local businesses,” Meg said. “I think it’s particularly important right now; we are seeing disrupted food production nationwide. At the market, we are all local, we don’t depend on these national supply lines.
Sequim Bee Farm supports all the small beekeepers in their community, citing another SFAM beekeeper, Dungeness Valley Apiaries.
The Depews say they enjoy the camaraderie of being part of the local food community in Sequim.
“We support each other in a community, it’s important to us,” Meg said. “You learn that from the bees, in their hives, they all support each other and I think that’s what we do at the farmers’ market.
“We could learn a lot from these little creatures.”
Find local honey and bee products from Sequim Bee Farm every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market in Sequim Civic Center.
Emma Jane Garcia is Marketing Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans market. See www.sequim market.com.