A bee-you-tiful celebration of a different kind took place Wednesday, on Caccamo Lane.
The night before, one of Savannah Bee’s youngest “bee ambassadors” — 9-year-old Hope Vengrow — called. A neighbor had lost a tree during Tropical Storm Isaias. It housed a wild honeybee hive, and would be cut up and removed by a tree service in a day or two.
Hope Vengrow, and the Caccamo Lane tree.
Hope worried that the bees would be sprayed, or otherwise harmed by the arborists.
Master beekeepers Jim Wood and Mike Lund rode to the rescue. The members of the BackYard Beekeepers Association spent Wednesday locating the nest, using a buzz saw to remove the sections that housed it, gently removing the bees, and relocating them in a Langstroth hive box — only to have them swarm on a 25-foot tree branch above.
Beekeepers to the rescue!
Retired Fairfield detective and Aspetuck Land Trust’s Ranger Jim helped next. They MacGyvered a Poland Spring jug to the end of a telescoping pole with a net, safely capturing the entire swarm.
“The chances of catching a swarm are slim to none. Losing their hive to swarming is a way of life for many beekeepers,” says Samantha Bee store manager Julie Cook.
“But Hope’s spirit, and Jim and Mike’s perseverance, saved the bees and the day.”
A closeup of the hive.
So tomorrow’s National Honey Bee Day celebration will be extra special. In addition to honey roasted coffee, artisanal teas, all-natural Italian energy drinks called BEEBAD, all-natural plant-based antibacterial soaps and more, from 1 to 4 p.m. you can meet Westport’s newest bee heroes.
SWEET FACT:The Back Yard Beekeepers Association has over 250 members. They meet (virtually and otherwise) the last Tuesday of each month via Zoom, and at Norfield Church in Weston. Their mission is to protect, save and enjoy honey bees and native bees.
As of 7 a.m., Eversource reported 6,258 Westport customers without power. That’s less than half the town — but by the slimmest of hairs. We’re down to 49.54% in the dark.
The utility “expects” to have 90% of all Eversource customers in service by tonight. That would mean 1,263 would still be waiting.
Of course, Isaias is not our only worry — or theirs. The utility notes, “In light of COVID-19, work practices and reporting procedures have been altered to protect our employees’ health, and those of our communities we serve. Pandemic guidelines have been reinforced across the system and they will be maintained while restoring service to all customers.”
PS: Saugatuck Avenue is closed from the train station parking lot to Duck Pond Road (the Norwalk line), through approximately 5 p.m. today.
PPS: Karen Solicito reports at 9:30 a.m. that the charging station at the Westport Weston Health District on Bayberry Lane is full. There’s a wait to use it. And though WiFi there works, it takes a few minutes for the phone to locate it. “Don’t fret if it doesn’t show up in the WiFi queue right away,” she says.
The cleanup continues. (Photo/C. Swan)
Rose Akin posted this yesterday, as a Comment on the Pic of the Day. But it deserves a much wider audience. So here it is:
“We moved to town recently. My husband and I and our 2 little ones picked up an amazing lunch from Rye Ridge Deli today. Finally made it to Compo Beach and realized we had way too much to carry with one trip from the car to the beach.
“My husband dropped off a few bags, and ran back to the car to grab more, and me and the boys. All of this happened within 60 seconds — and Compo seagulls! ☺️
“Rookie move on our part. They feasted on all of our lunch.
“My husband went back to Rye Ridge to get us lunch again, as the kids were starving. Guess what? Rye Ridge comped him the whole lunch. I mean … what a gesture!
“We were so beyond touched. I texted my friend Lisa Newman, telling her what a great choice we made moving here. She said, ‘you have to email Dan!'”
Thanks, Rose. And welcome to Westport. Once COVID and Isaias are gone, you’ll really love this place!
This was already a disastrous year for restaurants, markets, retail shops, fitness centers — just about any small business you can think of.
Just when they had mastered curbside and online sales, and then adjusted to the new rules and regulations regarding opening — they got whacked by Isaias.
We’re all in this together. We’re all restocking our refrigerators, paying extra for tree removal and new outdoor furniture, and on and on.
But still: Let’s figure out ways to help Westport’s own. Let’s redouble our efforts to shop local. Let’s go out for more restaurant meals than normal (eat-in or takeout) — and leave a large tip too.
If you’ve got an idea for helping the mom and pops who have sustained us for so long — and struggled so mightily — click “Comments” below.
Gold’s reopened a couple of days after Isaias struck. The popular deli had no power — but they improvised, sidewalk sales-style. Customers loved owner Jim and Nancy Eckl’s resourcefulness.
Speaking of small businesses, Savannah Bee’s store manager — the wonderful Julie Cook — writes:
“Nothing keeps us down on Church Lane. I was decorating my windows for National Honey Bee Day next Saturday (in the dark, sweltering heat), and miraculously the lights came on midday yesterday.
“What a bonus! We thought we’d be out until Tuesday night. As a thank-you (to all those tireless electrical crews from South Carolina — and the universe), please let folks know we’re open for business, we have cold spring water, delicious honey roasted coffee, lovely artisanal teas, all-natural Italian energy drinks called BEEBAD, all-natural plant-based antibacterial soaps with a huge sink to check them out, a large restroom, and the best part: People can charge their phones!
“We’d love to share our Southern hospitality today and next Saturday for our 3rd annual National Honey Bee Celebration. From 1 to 4 p.m., people can meet local beekeepers. We also have a live hive demonstration (safely encased in glass). And we’re making honey sips and sweets, plus beautiful flower crowns for all the queen bees in town.
It’s free and open to all! We’re happy to share the bee love, and our good fortune. It’s the simple things that make us smile these days❤️👍🏻🐝
How tough are things for businesses? Born of Earth spa is leaving its space near Whole Foods.
David Gerard — who has owned Born of Earth for 27 years — cited increasing rent, overhead and COVID-19 as reasons for the decision.
Fortunately, they’re not closing entirely. They’re merging with Artistex Salon & Spa, less than 2 miles away at 260 Post Road East. The entire Born of Earth team will continue at the new location.
Sandy Rothenberg asks: “How are we supposed to contact emergency services with no phone or WiFi at home? Especially in Weston as I’ve heard Westport has set up remote towers.”
Anyone know? Click “Comments” below.
And finally … if you’re waiting for a utility crew from South Carolina, Missouri, Canada or wherever:
Each week, the Westport Police Department writes tickets for driving while using cell phones.
It’s against the law. Distracted driving can cost you from $150 to $1,000.
To help you avoid those fines, the WPD has partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administraiton’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” effort. Throughout August, the campaign will help enforcement efforts to catch distracted, texting drivers.
The WPD says: Pull off the road safely to text. Or let your passenger text. And don’t forget to activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature. Or just put your phone in your trunk, glove box or back seat!
The pandemic can’t keep David Bibbey down. Or in the studio.
The Westport Library media studio producer brought his Van Raam trike to down, and rode around. Guided by Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell, he set out to discover how the town is reopening.
Click here for interviews with 2nd Selectman Jen Tooker, Westport Downtown Merchants Association head Randy Herbertson, artists Miggs and Trace Burroughs, and folks at Savannah Bee Company, Fleet Feet, Walrus Alley and New England Hemp Farm.
And finally … Hurricane Hanna hit the southern Gulf Coast this weekend. The area was already reeling from the coronavirus. Here’s to all our friends in that big, wonderful state.
A year and a half ago, the New York Times said Bleecker Street “looks like a Rust Belt city.”
On 5 blocks from Christopher Street to Bank Street, more than a dozen storefronts sat empty.
“Where textured-leather totes and cashmere scarves once beckoned to passers-by,” the paper reported, “the windows are now covered with brown construction paper, with ‘For Lease’ signs and directives to ‘Please visit us at our other locations.'”
Eighteen months after its obituary, that same 5-block stretch of the West Village is “full of cool, vibrant people doing interesting things.”
“Big-name luxury labels” are gone. Their storefronts are now filled with “young, digitally native brands….a well-curated mix of small brands with big ideas.” Many are run by women.
Hill House Home on Bleecker Street shows that a bit of creativity can produce wonders — and entice shoppers. (Photo/Stefania Curto for New York Times)
The sudden switch was no accident. Brookfield Properties bought 4 properties with 7 storefronts last April — “after exorbitant rents and a dearth of shoppers had driven out most of the businesses.” The new owners “immediately set to work rethinking the landscape.”
A creative strategy firm helped plan short-term leases — and revenue sharing.
Nell Diamond — the founder of bedding and bath retailer Hill House Home, an early arrival — did not believe retail was dead.
“Bad retail is dead,” she clarified.
Bleecker Street’s new stores have become destinations — and community centers. They offer hot cocoa, and host podcasts, educational events and book club meetings. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a book signing at Lingua Franca, which sells cashmere sweaters hand-stitched with political slogans.
So why is “06880” highlighting a story about 10012?
Because some of the descriptions about last year’s Bleecker Street resonate with this year’s Main Street.
There are some great, fun stores downtown. You can lose yourself — and find nearly every gift you need — at Savvy + Grace, and The Brownstone. Bedford Square is filled with shops like Savannah Bee Company. Serena & Lily has brought new energy and creativity too.
Serena & Lily draws crowds of shoppers, just off Main Street.
But there are too many “windows covered with brown construction paper.” Landlords still hold out for sky-high rents, and refuse to consider options like short-term leases and revenue sharing.
I know, I know. Apples and oranges. Westport is not New York. Main Street will never have the foot traffic of Bleecker Street.
But we don’t need all those empty storefronts either.
If Greenwich Village can find a way out of its retail doldrums, our village can too.
(Click here for the full New York Times story. Hat tip: Michelle Sinclair Colman)
Normally, the announcement of a gourmet cooking class and tasting in a Westport store would not be “06880”-worthy.
It’s nice and interesting, sure. But there’s a lot going on in Westport, and with 10-15 requests for publicity a day — and 1/3 of my blog’s readers living outside Connecticut — any event I preview must be very remarkable.
Or have a way cool back story.
This one is all about the back story.
On Tuesday, March 13 (6 to 8 p.m.), Fox Schanzer leads that cooking class at Savannah Bee Company, the artisinal honey and body care store in Bedford Square.
For $25, you’ll master — and taste — 5 recipes, featuring honey from around the world.
Here’s the “wow” factor. It involves Fox — and not just because he has one of the coolest names this side of Rip Torn and Slim Pickens.
Fox — Savannah Bee’s “educator/resident” chef — is just 17 years old.
He graduated from Staples High School early — in January. That’s 3 years after he discovered his love for the culinary arts, in chef Cecily Gans’ class.
Fox followed his passion by working for the top chefs in Connecticut, including Anthony Kostelis at The Whelk, and Brian Lewis of The Cottage.
Fox began working at Savannah Bee Company last fall. He immediately impressed customers with his extensive knowledge of pure raw artisinal honey, from around the globe.
He constantly experiments with new dishes, which he shares with customers.
The owners and butchers at M.EAT — the old-school/organic butcher market a few doors over in Bedford Square — love Fox so much, they asked him to include a marinated meat selection at the March 13 event. To seal the deal, they offered to provide their meats free of charge — and grill them for him.
Fox — also an accomplished guitar player and rock climber, and who in his spare time cooks for the Gillespie Center — heads off soon to the Culinary Institute of America.
His dream is to open a small, 20-seat restaurant near here, to cook for friends and family.
Remember the name: Fox Schanzer. And if you go to Savannah Bee Company on March 13, one day you can say “he taught me how to cook, honey.”
(The $25 fee for the March 13 event includes wine, a tasting of 5 prepared recipes, and instruction. For more information, and to reserve a spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
For a decade, honeybees died in distressingly large numbers.
But in downtown Westport, they’re alive and well.
At least, their honey is.
On Friday, Bedford Square welcomed its newest tenant. Savannah Bee Company — an artisanal honey and body care store — opened its 8th location. It’s the first outside the Southeast.
Savannah Bee Company’s entrance on Church Lane.
“They’ll have to sell a lot of honey to afford that space” is the reaction from some residents.
But others who have seen Savannah Bee in action — in its 3 eponymous locations, or its upscale locations in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, St. Simons or Lake Buena Vista — know it’s more than just a honey store.
And folks who have wandered in since its opening are all abuzz.
Savannah Bee is the brainchild of Ted Dennard. If you think his company is interesting, wait till you hear his back story.
Ted Dennard, at the “honey bar.” The front counter is made of bee boxes.
Dennard grew up in St. Simons, Georgia. When he was 13, a beekeeper asked his father for permission to put hives on the property. His father agreed — provided the man taught his kids about beekeeping.
Dennard studied religion and philosophy in college, then joined the Peace Corps.
He opened his first store in 1999, selling tupelo honey. He expanded slowly, adding sites and expanding his mission.
Customers at the Bedford Square store can sample a variety of honeys, from several continents; bottle their own (from local beekeepers), and enjoy treats like “artisanal honey chocolate” made by Fred Knipschildt.
The bright interior of Savannah Bee Company.
Dennard has spent time in this area, and loves it. Westport, he says, is a community that “seems to appreciate what we do, and understands the wonder of the honeybee world.”
He calls bees “an amazing species. They keep the world thriving.”
Dennard marvels at their complexity, their important (if unsung) role in nature, and their appeal to anyone who understands them. After 40 years, he says, “they never let me down. I’m always learning more.”
So he’s undertaken the Bee Cause Project (get it?). Savannah Bee donates hives to schools. Students watch bees build honeycombs, make honey, raise babies, do their dances and pass nectar.
More than 250 schools already participate, in 46 states. Each beehive is worth about $2,000.
Savannah Bee also gives honey to students, to sell. The money they earn helps fund more hives, in more schools.
“Bees have been around for hundreds of millions of years,” Dennard says. “We’re taking the long view. We’re trying to raise a generation that loves, understands and protects honeybees.”
He learns a lot from bees. One lesson: “You don’t get anywhere unless you’re moving.”
Savannah Bee Company has moved out of its Southeast hive. It’s now making honey — and happy customers — in downtown Westport.
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