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.

Bee pollination at Ogden House insured the garden’s productivity — the key to surviving in colonial New England. Today, with major support from individuals, Fairfield University’s Tess Brown and other town organizations, the number of hives in the apiary has grown to four. The honey, cultivated and jarred by Fairfield Garden Club members, is sold through the Fairfield Museum Shop.

If you would like to celebrate the legacy of the honey bee, stop by Ogden House on Sunday, September 25 between 1pm and 4pm for the annual "Honey Day" event. The day, which is presented in conjunction with the Fairfield Garden Club, includes tours of the home and garden, crafts and specially-brewed "sun tea." $5 for adults, $3 for children/seniors and free for Fairfield Museum members and children ages 5 and under.

Learn more about the history and culture of Fairfield, view rotating exhibitions and purchase Fairfield-themed gifts at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Road. 203-259-1598; Fairfieldhistory.org.

The Museum and Museum Shop are open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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2013

The year the Fairfield Museum & History Center partnered with the Fairfield Garden Club to build an apiary at Ogden House against the potential threat of Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder.