Honeybees Found A Home At Presby


Right around bloom season, we noticed a lot of buzzing at the Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Indeed, it turned out that there were lots and lots of honeybees living close to the Walther House. Very close. Cary Africk, councilman and town liaison to Presby, noted that honeybees are valuable to the ecology, and everyone agreed, let’s find a safe way to move them to another location. That turned out fine. However–we had a hunch a few may have stayed behind. We needed some bee experts to follow up on that hunch.

The bee professionals checked things out carefully, and determined that there were indeed lots of bees left in the boards and beams of the ceiling in the second floor library. So they went to work again, carefully gathering up the honeybees to move to a safer location. But this time, they asked us for a bowl. What for? The honey! IMG_1837-copy.jpg
Yes, a great big bowl of honey, replete with huge chunks of honeycomb. I’m a bit of a worrier, so I asked, several times, are you sure its safe to eat? Does it have woodchunks in it? Lead? Asbestos? No, I was assured, it was perfectly safe, hadn’t been touching anything bad, had been created the usual way, from the wildflowers and irises around the gardens. I carried the big bowl of honey and comb outside to our iris neurosurgeons, who were meticulously examining and grooming rhizomes and replanting the beds.


That was a rallying cry for the hardcore, lifelong gardeners working away in the sun. IMG_1830-copy-tasting-the-honey.jpg We all tasted it, gingerly at first. What would it taste like? Bee fuzz? Ceiling wood? Pine trees? Actually, it tasted like…heaven. Yes, heaven. It was some of the lightest, most delicate, ethereally delicious honey I have ever tasted, and in a summer in which we have been privileged to watch two baby deer frolic at Anderson Park, this was one more miracle.

In addition to being Baristanet’s photo editor, Fran Liscio is also president of Presby.


  1. Great story. I now have an intense craving for fresh honeycomb. mmmmm. (I may just have to settle for the cereal!)

  2. I think Presby gardens needs an Apiary in the backyard to educate the gardeners as well as other adults and children as to how beneficial bees are… AND you can actually eat the honey and comb.

  3. We’ve thought about it. We love honeybees. But our mission is the iris rhizomes and that’s where all of our resources must be directed–but if we had our druthers, sure, we’d love to have an apiary. And I am always enchanted by the symmetrical beauty of the comb. Interestingly, as soon as we had the bowl of honeycomb out in the sunlight, lots of other honeybees started appearing out of nowhere to get to work on it–they seemed to know just what to do.

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