photo of honey bottles
photo of honey bottles

Beekeeping

projects Beekeeping

Fresh 2017 Honey!

The bees have through with a nice batch of honey!
Sweet - Local - Organic - Fresh - Good for You Honey
$10 Donation per jar - Limited Supply
Makes a GREAT gift!

Please contact us or call Pete at 215-343-0659



Despite starting the season with only one hive, we were able to bring our hive count back up to nine - we were able to steal 120 pounds of honey from the three strongest hives. That honey has been screened and bottled and is available now while it lasts.

Bee Keeping at the Penrose Strawbridge House

photo of Ted Florek with beekeeper suit
Beekeeper Ted Florek
photo of Ted Florek with beekeeper suit
Beekeeper Ted Florek





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.

Tadeus (Ted) 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 way back in 2009 and has been our beekeeper ever since.

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.





Since 2009 we have had good years and bad years - losing hives due to extremely cold winters, parasites and colony collapse disorder: a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.

photo of Cindy, Ted, and Pete in Beekeeping Suits
Cyndi, Ted and Pete ready to harvest honey
photo of Cindy, Ted, and Pete in Beekeeping Suits
Cyndi, Ted and Pete ready to harvest honey

About Honey Bees

photo of Pete, Tim, Connor building bee hives at the table in the 1721 room at the Penrose Strawbridge House
Connor, Tim and Pete building frames for the beehives
photo of Pete, Tim, Connor building bee hives at the table in the 1721 room at the Penrose Strawbridge House
Connor, Tim and Pete building frames for the beehives





Honey bees are not native to North America, but were brought here from Europe. The most common type of honey bee normally found in the US is the Golden Italian - Apis Mellifera Ligustica. Bees travel from flower to flower gathering nectar which they bring back to the hive to turn into honey. It takes between 1000 to 1500 individual visits to fill just one sac and 60 full sacs to fill just one thimble with honey.

While gathering the nectar the bee gets covered in pollen and by traveling to many different flowers the bee transfers this pollen from one flower to another, a process known as pollination which is important to the reproduction of many plants. Honey bees account for about 80% insect pollination and are critical to agriculture.

Honey bees are highly social and live in large colonies called hives which can contain as many as 80,000 bees. Each hive has 1 queen who is larger than the other bees and lays all the eggs - up to 1500 per day. The queen has a large stinger and can use it multiple times. She can live up to 2 years.

Male bees are known as drones. They have no stinger. Only a small number of males are present in a hive at any time and they only live about 8 weeks. The drones only job is to mate with a new queen. The remaining bees are known as worker bees and they are all female. When young they work in the hive, when they mature they become foragers and go out searching for nectar. Worker bees have a stinger but when used it gets ripped out of their abdomen, killing the bee.

Bees will sting to protect their hives so it is best to stay away or be very careful and quiet when near their hives. We have large signs at the Penrose Strawbridge House warning people to stay away from the hives.

photo of bee hives stacked on floor
Bee Hives full of honey waiting to be extracted.
photo of bee hives stacked on floor
Bee Hives full of honey waiting to be extracted.
photo of Pete Choate pouring honey through a filter
Pete filtering honey
photo of Pete Choate pouring honey through a filter
Pete filtering honey







Honey is a thick liquid produced by certain types of bees from the nectar of flowers. While many species of insects consume nectar, honeybees refine and concentrate nectar to make honey. Indeed, they make lots of honey so they will have plenty of food for times when flower nectar is unavailable, such as winter. Unlike most insects, honeybees remain active through the winter, consuming and metabolizing honey in order to keep from freezing to death.

Dangers to Honey Bees

The number of bee colonies in the US has fallen drastically in recent years and this loss is likely due to a number of factors including increased imports of honey from Asia and natural problems such as mites.

One problem causing issues for bees and beekeepers is a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) . First observed in 2006, the main symptom of CCD is simply no or a low number of adult honey bees present but with a live queen and no dead honey bees in the hive. Often there is still honey in the hive, and immature bees (brood) are present. We have seen what was likely CCD at the Penrose Strawrbridge House in the spring when we found several hives where the bees had just disappeared.

Winter is also a problem for bees and in the cold winter of 2010-11 we also lost a number of hives, but in this case there were a large number of dead bees still present. 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.

photo of bee hives with dead bees on top of frames
We found dead bees after opening the hives in spring
photo of bee hives with dead bees on top of frames
We found dead bees after opening the hives in spring

Interested in Becoming a Bee Keeper?




The Montgomery County Beekeepers' Association offers a great deal of information for bee keepers and for those interested in becoming a bee keeper.

While here at the Penrose Strawbridge House we have large area and a fairly large number of bees, you can start much smaller. Locally there are bee keepers in Philadelphia, Ambler, Glenside and many other urban and suburban areas. The bees can travel up to 2 miles to gather nectar.

You can also learn about bees here at the Penrose Strawbridge House. You can help us build hives, harvest and bottle honey, or learn how to be a beekeeper yourself. We also offer occasional workshops and classes on beekeeping so join our mailing list
Please contact us or follow us to keep in touch.

Some of these activities can also count toward community service commitments for school, scouts, etc.

photo of Cindy, Ted, and Pete in Beekeeping Suits
Cindy, Ted and Pete tending bees
photo of Cindy, Ted, and Pete in Beekeeping Suits
Cindy, Ted and Pete tending bees



Support the Future of Horsham's History!

Horsham Preservation and Historical Association (HPHA)
900 Governor Road
Horsham, PA 19044 USA
© 2000- Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
A Community Benefit Organization

Horsham Preservation and Historical Association (HPHA)
900 Governor Road
Horsham, PA 19044 USA
© 2000- Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
We are A Community Benefit Organization
Horsham Preservation and Historical Association Logo
215-343-0659 | Email