Bees are essential to the food system. Aside from producing
honey, they pollinate around one-third to two-thirds of important crops,
according to various estimates, and the rapid decline of the bee population in
recent years poses a serious threat to many berries, fruits, and vegetables.
Nestled just outside DC in Falls Church, VA, Eco
Honeybees serves homemakers and businesses interested in beekeeping in the
metro area with hive installment and maintenance services.
The local business helps people who don’t necessarily know
how to care for bees themselves, which takes time and has a steep learning
“There’s a lot of people who want to do something about the
bee crisis,” said Larry Marling, who co-founded Eco Honeybees (http://ecohoneybees.com/)
with his wife,
Karen, in 2011. “We essentially provide the expertise and the labor.”
The team plans how many hives they will sell each year in
advance, assembling equipment and starting the hives over the winter (a
delicate time for bees) to sell to customers in the spring and summer.
Then, they install and inform their clients, the majority of
whom are homeowners, according to Marling, about hive maintenance.
Customers can employ the business to inspect and monitor the
hives, which Marling said is important to ensure the hives are adapting to
their environments and to eliminate potential problems, including parasites and
diseases, before they can become problems.
They would also receive advice and guidance to help their
hives survive the next winter.
“We’re not dealing with beekeepers here,” said Marling about
why his business strives to help and educate its customers. “I mean, a common
question we get is ‘Why do bees create honey?’ They don’t understand that they
create honey to survive in the winter.”
Generally, hives produce between 10 to 40 pounds of honey
per year, according to the business’s website, but this changes based on the
environment and other factors.
Eco Honeybees uses its own breeding program to populate its
hives, and it provides a choice between Langstroth hives, or more common,
vertical hives, and Top Bar hives, which are horizontal and considered more
organic because the bees fill them out with little guidance, according to
For Langstroth hives, honey is taken using an extractor. Top
Bar hives are more old-fashioned in that the liquid honey comes from crushed
combs and is then strained.
“No hive is better than the other,” said Marling. “It’s just
essentially, you know, ballroom dance versus tap – people have a preference.”
Marling said one challenging aspect of running Eco Honeybees
is being ready to give customers immediate assistance and adapting care to
various environments around the DC metro area.
“In this day and age when everybody is destroying the
environment, we’re trying to improve it,” Marling said. “There is no handy
manual of how to do things. There is nobody out there for advice. The mistakes
we make are our own.”
Marling said the business is getting more commercial
clients, including restaurants, schools, and country clubs, and it is
constantly looking to expand.
About the Author
Vithlani is a junior multi-platform journalism major and French minor
at the University of Maryland. This spring she is also an editorial
intern for Washington
"Local First Friday" is a weekly blog series profiling independent
garden businesses in the greater Washington, DC, and Mid-Atlantic
region. Washington Gardener Magazine believes strongly in supporting and sourcing from local businesses first!