By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
The sound of bees humming is audible all around at the Straight from the Hive bee farm where a number of hives are literally buzzing with activity.
Richard Lercari, the beekeeper who runs Straight from the Hive, is very much a bee person. He has a bee hat and wears bee socks and speaks about his interest in bees.
“I’m totally fascinated by bees,” Lercari said. “I can spend all day just watching the entrance to the hive.”
Lercari used smoke in order to make the bees think about abandoning the hive, which makes it easier to check the combs. The potential of a thunderstorm that day, he said, also makes them more likely to be placid because they can sense weather.
He said the bees won’t sting unless they feel threatened by somebody taking a swipe at one of them.
Dressed in his heavy bee suit on a hot morning, Tuesday, June 8, Lercari is checking each individual hive component for the queen. He goes through each individual panel until he finds her and points out the white dot on the bee marking her out. The panels are covered with bees and there are close to a hundred in that hive alone.
But Lercari said that bees will safely coexist with him until he has to start extracting honeycombs.
“They are not pets and they have only one thing in mind: survival of the colony,” Lercari said.
He says that he checks the hives frequently to see if the queen is laying eggs and how much of the brood, the male bees, have hatched.
“You’re supposed to talk to the bees. You’re supposed to confide in them about important parts of your life,” Lercari said, saying that doing so was a beekeeping tradition.
Lercari said he got started beekeeping because he got interested in using honeycomb for cooking.
“It wasn’t that big of a stretch to go from cooking food to making honeycomb,” Lercari said.
He says that he came up with a mini frame for harvesting honeycomb, has an Amish family produce the wood wear, and sells them mostly to people in Manhattan.
Lercari stands out because he is more interested in producing honeycomb and creamed honey rather than regular raw honey. From Suffolk County, Long Island originally, Lercari used to be a chef who worked at Italian restaurants in Manhattan but got interested in making honeycomb as a part of cooking.
“Most people think of honeycomb as fresh and straight off the hive,” Lercari said. However, he stumbled upon a new way of using honeycomb.
What he discovered when serving a salad with honeycomb in it to a few chefs in 2009, he found that all of them preferred aged honeycomb to the fresh kind. “That set me off on a whole journey. How long do you agethe comb for?” Lercari said. “The unique bit about it is you can literally cut a little cube out if it. The honeycomb presents a stratifying of flavor so you don’t just get sweet in everybite … it opens worlds. Not thatthey don’t exist, but it’s the roadless travelled.”
A big part of Lercari’s interest in honeyis the texture of creamed honey.Straight from the Hive has honeycombs flavored with wild flower, turmeric, ginger, rosemary and Ceylon cinnamon. Lercari said he also used beeswax to make products such as wood rub and candles.
He is also thinking of showcasing New York Bee Wellness, whose goal it is to educate beekeepers and others on honey bee disease with the goal of maintaining honey bee population in
This will be Lercari’s first summer at the Cooperstown Market and he says he is “very excited.”