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Backyard Pond Leads to Orchard and Honey

When Win and Stephanie Baum decided to dig a hole for pond in their Fairfield, Conn., backyard, one thing led to another.

The hole, some 13 feet deep, yielded an enormous pile of soil. It was so fertile that the Baums decided to spread it around the new pond and plant an orchard. They bought apples, pears, cherries, apricots and plums and planted the whips, as baby trees are known.

The following spring, Win was concerned that the young trees hadn't been pollinated properly. "I needed bees," he says. He figured his local health food store would know about local beekeepers. In fact, the store sold honey from Ed Weiss' hives in Wilton. Win tracked down Weiss, a longtime member and past president of the Backyard Beekeepers Association, and enlisted his help.

"We started off with two hives," he says. Now the Baums have 60 hives, which means a lot of honey. They harvest it twice a year. Each hive can yield 300 pounds. "Stephanie handles all the marketing," Win says. "I do the grunt work out in the field."

Win says beekeeping is just a hobby. In order for it to be a profitable business, he adds, you'd have to work at it full time. And Win already has a full-time job. He's chairman of the Fairfield County Commercial Brokers Network and has been involved in real estate for more than 35 years. "I've done everything from a condo conversion in Greenwich to a historical restoration in New Haven," he says.

Stephanie is a whiz at marketing, her husband says. She designs labels, fills honey jars, packages bee pollen, makes beeswax candles and finds new outlets for their bees' honey. She recently started making hand cream and lip balm, too. Win ended up joining the Backyard Beekeepers Association and served as president.

Twenty years after digging that big hole at the end of their property, the Baums' backyard has changed significantly. The pond is wonderful, Win says. It's surrounded by a mature fruit orchard, which yields organic fruit, thanks to all the bees. And Bee Baum Honey has grown into a thriving cottage industry. None of this would have happened, Win points out, if they hadn't dug that hole.

Have you tried Bee Baum honey?

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