Painted Fields - Belews Creek Chris Crump spent 24 years planting wildflowers across five North Carolina counties as part of the NC Department of Transportation’s Wildflower Program. Now, he and
Painted Fields – Belews Creek
Chris Crump spent 24 years planting wildflowers across five North Carolina counties as part of the NC Department of Transportation’s Wildflower Program. Now, he and his 8-year-old son, Colt, plant their own at Dogwood Farms. Chris and Colt sow 14 acres of flowers to match the seasons: “I plant yellows and reds and oranges for the fall and lighter colors for the summertime,” Chris says. Beginning in late July, visitors are welcomed by thousands of friendly floral faces. They can pick armfuls of sunflowers, cosmos, or zinnias and wander through Chris and Colt’s sea of petals.
Bottled Sunshine – Belews Creek
When Chris and Colt Crump’s pumpkin-planting project produced blooms but no pumpkins, the father and son tried to find out why. “A guy told me, ‘You don’t have enough visitors,’” Chris says. He meant that the Crumps didn’t have bees to pollinate their pumpkin flowers. “I rented two hives, and within days, we had pumpkins coming everywhere on the vines.” Colt has hives of his own now, and his bees mingle with butterflies and native bees on fluffy zinnia heads and broad sunflower faces, along with native plants. The Crumps’ first honey harvest last year yielded seven gallons of golden sweetness to dip, pour, drip, and sop.
8096 Belews Creek Road
Belews Creek, NC 27009
Modern Keepers – Raleigh
Today, nearly three-quarters of North Carolinians live in urban areas, but our drive to cultivate persists. Many beekeepers, like Raleigh’s Alice Hinman, tend their bee-filled boxes in backyards and on rooftops in cities across the state. Hinman’s bees gather nectar from window boxes packed with bee balm and traffic-median dandelions, and they’ve been known to have a drink from glasses at open-air restaurants. “I used to say that in my dream life I would be a farmer,” Hinman says. “But really, I liked honey and was buying it in bulk at the farmers market.”
Penthouse Sweet – Asheville
The Renaissance Hotel saves its best views for honeybees. As the country’s first Bee City, USA, Asheville builds abundant pollinator habitats to encourage our natural helpers to flourish. The Renaissance, with the help of Asheville’s Center for Honeybee Research, keeps two hives, each brimming with thousands of buzzing bees, on its lower roof. Passersby can glimpse the south-facing hives from the street, and guests at the hotel can peer down on them from their rooms. And on June 11, hundreds of keepers from around the world will bring their honey to the hotel for the Center’s annual honey contest. The entries are kept in black jars, so all that’s judged are the honeys’ distinctive flavors.
31 Woodfin Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Drinking the Field – Durham
“When you drink mead, you are drinking the field,” says Diane Currier, owner of Honeygirl Meadery. “You are drinking a moment in time.” A honey harvest captures that moment like an edible photograph, and Currier turns that photograph into mead, or honey wine. At Honeygirl, you can sample handmade, small-batch meads like lavender, orange blossom, and wildflower meadow — many of them made from local North Carolina honey — or you can take a tasting trip that transports you through the flavors of other far-off meadows.
105 Hood Street, Suite 6
Durham, NC 27701
Icing on the Cake – Winston-Salem
Brittany McGee knows that there’s more to honey than soaking it up by the biscuitful. The Humble Bee Shoppe’s owner and executive chef wrapped this custom honey spice cake in a heavenly cloud of honey and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, complete with a honey and white chocolate ganache drip. The icing “is a beautiful, luscious vehicle to deliver a really impactful honey flavor to the cake,” she says. Other custom confections from this bee-loving baker include a rainbow’s worth of macarons and treats like oatmeal raisin cookies made only from plants. Honeybees — the original vegans — would approve.
1003 Brookstown Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Biscuits & Honey – Asheville, Charlotte, & Raleigh
At Tupelo Honey, the sweet stuff glazes pork, dusts fried chicken (yes, really!), and sweetens margaritas. But nothing beats the Southern classic: a warm, flaky buttermilk biscuit drizzled with ribbons of honey that pool on your plate — a sweet puddle waiting for the perfect last bite.
The Good of the Hive
In 2008, a lost honeybee found Matthew Willey in his New York City studio and changed the course of the artist’s life. “I looked at this creature that looked more like a puppy than an insect,” he says, “and I wanted to know more.” As Willey learned about honeybees, their habits, and their personalities, he untangled threads connecting the insects to humans. “The more I learned about bees, the more I realized how much we have in common.” Now, he strives to keep bees safe for future generations by painting larger-than-life nectar gatherers on walls across North Carolina and the United States. His hope is that people see the beauty of the hive — and how much we have to learn from a soft-spoken, gentle bee.
Checking in to the Bee Hotel – Raleigh
“When people talk about pollinators, they talk about honeybees or butterflies, but the bulk of plants are pollinated by solitary bees, wasps, and other insects,” says Mark Weathington, director of JC Raulston Arboretum. These insects are all VIP guests at the arboretum’s Air Bee & Bee. Here, hundreds of luxury suites attract members of the more than 500 native North Carolina bee and wasp species that spend their days exploring the arboretum’s 6,600 plant species.
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC 27606
Pollinator Paradise – Pittsboro
On average, every third bite we eat comes courtesy of the work of pollinators. Those honeybees and native bees, wasps, butterflies and flower flies, and even hummingbirds pollinate an astonishing number of flowers. Squash bees peek out of their underground tunnels, ready to visit zucchini and pumpkin blossoms, the shape of the fuzz on their bellies a perfect match for the shape of their favorite flowers. Fig wasps pollinate and die inside figs; without them, fig trees would cease to be. Now, we know how strong the bonds between us and these tiny creatures are. To help them flourish in Pittsboro, Agricultural Extension Agent Debbie Roos created a Pollinator Paradise at Chatham Mills. “I love pointing out my favorite native plants in bloom, including shrubs like buttonbush, which blooms for four months,” Roos says. “Everyone can make a difference with their gardening efforts.” By choosing to plant bee-friendly blooms, we can all keep bees, to thank them for keeping us.
480 Hillsboro Street
Pittsboro, NC 27312
This story was published on Apr 01, 2020