Responding to the potential threat of Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, the Fairfield Museum & History Center partnered with the Fairfield Garden Club to start beekeeping in town. In 2013 the two organizations built an apiary — a collection of beehives — and introduced two beehives to the historic 1750 Ogden House’s Colonial Garden. The garden, located behind the house, features raised beds, walkways of crushed sea shells with plants and herbs typical of those used at the time.
The importance of beekeeping in colonial times is well documented in the historical record. Because of the lack of native pollinators, Colonists carried skeps along with apple trees on their journeys to America across the Atlantic in the 1600s. The bees pollinated the apple trees, and the settlers made cider. In addition, the honey was used for medicinal, culinary and household purposes. Medicinally it was used in combination with many herbs and was applied to open wounds to prevent infection. An important sweetener, it was also an instant energy source. It was used as a preservative for ham and fruits. Beeswax was used for waterproofing leather, binding wounds and making candles. Honey and beeswax were so valuable, they were often used in place of hard-to-find currency in very rural towns.