We started our honeybee colonies here at the Penrose Strawbridge House in 2009 under the direction of our beekeeper Tadeus (Ted) Florek .
We have delicious, organic, local Honey but quantities are limited!
Mrs Strawbridge's caretaker, Dennis Smith was known to have kept bees and since the property has been an active farm since Governor Keith's time, its likely that bees were kept here even prior to the Strawbridges.
The spring of 2013 wasn't as kind to our bees as last year was but they have graciously provided us with a fair amount of delicious, fresh, locally harvested, organic honey.
Despite losing several hives over the winter, the remaining bees seemed to enjoy the mild spring and produced a bumper crop of honey that we harvested in early July. But we don't seem to be short of the type of plants that the bees keep busy with in the late summer and fall so we did not take any more honey later in the season.
The winter of 2011-12 was actually very mild in the Northeast US, we had a week in February when it was in the 80s! For some reason, however, our bees did not do all that well.
We found a number of empty hives come spring, likely due to the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The bees just seemed to have disappeared. CCD does not have a known cause but it has been linked to the use of pesticides, parasites, and other environmental stresses.
We again repopulated the lost hives, treated the bees for possible parasites, and also asked the local farmer to plant something besides corn which might not require as much chemical pesticide.
Since we lost several colonies due to the cold winter, we repopulated the hives with some bees that we purchased. We also planted a field of clover for the bees to ensure them a food supply. By late summer we were able to harvest a couple of gallons of very delicious local organic honey.
The winter of 2010-11 was harsh in our area and in the spring we discovered that it had taken its toll on our bees. When Ted opened the hives in the spring he found many dead bees. The bees huddle together for warmth and probably exhausted their food supply where they were gathered. Even though there was plenty of honey just inches away, they were unable to get to it due to the cold.
Our beekeeper, Tadeus Florek, had been keeping bees at another location but was being forced to move due to development of that location. Ted knew of the Penrose Strawbridge House through a friend and approached us about keeping bees here. We thought it was a great idea and Ted started building hives.
A large part of the Penrose Strawbridge property is still farmed under a lease agreement between the township and a local farmer. The crops he plants: corn, rye, etc, unfortunately do not need bees for pollination so we quickly realized that our bees might have a hard time finding food. So in the summer of 2010 we planted a field of clover and some 'bee friendly' plants for them.