Eco Honeybees, essentially, is Karen and Larry Marling. From the photo we'll let you figure out which is which. We base Eco Honeybees out of our home in Falls Church, VA just inside the beltway on the Tyson's side.
We started this business back in 2011 working together everyday. Over the years, Karen's mobility limitations have become such that she's dedicated herself to doing the books and accounting behind the scenes keeping the lights on and the business functioning. She is the Queen Bee. Luckily her background is accounting. This leaves Larry to handle the hive inspections, set up and hive deliveries along with collecting all the bee stings and lifting the heavy boxes of honey. He, obviously, is the Drone. Larry is pretty diverse. He was a security expert in the Defense Industry before peace broke out in '89 and then went into sales. He spent 14 very successful years in the motorcycle world and 11 more on eBay selling older vehicles. He also did a lot of sales and motivational training.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away in 2009, A gardening friend of ours had a beekeeper friend. The beekeeper had a couple extra hives he'd created and dropped one off at our friend's house along with ours. Even though we were both scared of bees, we'd just started growing a lot of edibles in our yard and knew bees were needed to help with the pollination.
At the time, Larry worked from home selling cars full time on eBay all over the country. So he was spending much of his time on the phone. He found has was spending more and more time talking on the phone right in the front of their hive just watching the bees while talking. And, no matter how close he got to them, he wasn't getting stung. From there, the bees just became fascinating just to sit and observe.
A light bulb went off when Larry said; "Hey! I'll bet other people would enjoy sitting back and watching bees come and go." and that's how it started. No bee crisis, no saving the world. Just enjoying bees doing their thing in nature. From there, it's taken off!
During our first few years, we were all over the news. We were featured on the German National Public Broadcasting Channel and we stood in as an Environmental Pundit for Al Jazeera. We were also written up in the Washingtonian magazine, a couple gardening publications, and several environmental websites. While we tend to like a lower profile due to the limited number of hives we have available and our limited selling area, we were on CNN again in 2018 when one of our hives was placed at the Vice President' Residence in Washington, DC
Ummmmm, total nutcases. "Hello, Ma'am! I'm here to deliver your big box of stinging insects! It's a Mother's Day gift from your husband.". Sounds like a joke, right? Nope. That's us.
Larry can come off as pretty eccentric at times. After all, look what he does for a living. While still trying to be very professional. Especially riding an antique sidecar rig with hive boxes strapped to the rack while wearing a full bee suit when he's out doing inspections. But this is understandable when one works with bees full time every day.
Larry will be the first to tell you he talks more with bees than he does people and puts more value in the bees than with most people he's known. But he also believes that, when you talk to your bees you start treating them more as equals and that's what's needed for their survival. He doesn't feel he's in charge of hive, but that he just supports them. many clients are surprised at the lengths Eco Honeybees is willing to go to in this support. Just ask the client who visited us in early Spring and found six small hives sitting in a bedroom because it was too cold the past night for those new colonies to survive.
Passions are defined in many different ways. And we're passionate about our bees and trying to enjoy this world!
To jump into this rather odd school of thought, please click on our Bee Zen page HERE.
We've been doing this full time since 2011. Many beekeepers have been doing it for decades. They have a hive or two in their yard and go into them 3-4 times a year and attend the local bee club Christmas Party.
At Eco Honeybees, between our breeding program and our clients hives, we go into 4-10 different hives a day, six days a week, 8-9 months a year, for the past 8 years. Do the math.
But the hives we go into are ALL OVER THE WHOLE AREA. Think about this. Someone in Fairfax with a few hives in their yard knows about bees in Fairfax. How would they handle hives in NW DC? Or Alexandria? Or Camp Springs, MD? Or Bethesda? Our experience all over the region means that we've seen dozens of different situation and environments and are geared towards thinking on our feet and adapting. Because of this we often decry about how clubs train beekeepers at their classes. We often feel that we need far few classically trained beekeepers and a whole lot more bee "trauma surgeons" and are willing to try new things and take a risk or two to help hives survive when the region's climate is rapidly changing each year.
When we put a new hive in a place we never have before, we know what to look for and how to react along with the hive in an unknown.
Well, last we checked, we're having about a 75% SURVIVAL rate with our hives. The average local beekeepers have about a 70% MORTALITY rate. Yep, 7 out of 10 hives started dies. That's why there's a bee crisis.
So us being proactive and in trying to predict and prevent issues before they happen must mean something.
We hope to hear from you. It is far from a perfect world and the success of a beehive is never guaranteed. But, with Eco Honeybees, you can always be assured that it won't be from a lack of trying. We bust our butts trying to make hives healthy and successful. They are much more than insects to us.