Integrating Social Change Bee Happy Farm
got the opportunity to sit down with the owners of Bee Happy Farm, Mary Ellen & Carl Artrip for an interview on October 12th of 2019. This Bee Farm opened for business in the Spring of 2018 and has been continuously integrating social change within their community by establishing healthy lifestyle behaviors and nourishing their surrounding environment with honey bees.
Owner and beekeeper, Carl Artrip stated, “I got the first hive for personal use, but then started getting interest from community members to get their own bees.” His wife, Mary Ellen, now owner of Bee Happy Amish Pantry, said that she didn’t like the idea of having upwards of 10,000 bees so close to their home. After conducting a live video on the farm, I got a firsthand experience of what that fear actually feels like.
The Beekeeper provided full protective gear, but once he opened a hive up and I was suddenly surround by so many bees the fear kicked in. I had a memory flash of My Girl from the early 90’s when Thomas J. was hunting for his crushes ring and walked right into a hive. I think the emotional turmoil that scene brought may have scared a lot of 80’s babies from ever going near bees. Mary Ellen’s fear are substantiated, according to the Journal of Asthma and Allergy, approximately 5 to 7.5 percent of people will experience a severe allergic reaction to insect stings in their lifetimes. In beekeepers, this risk rises to 32 percent.
The beekeeper informed me that he had developed an interest in bees from watching his Papaw work with his own hives years ago. He stated, “I promised God that everyone that He brought to the farm, I would mention Him and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I am really thankful for the amazing people that we continue to meet.”
Although the humble creation of Bee Happy Farm was anticipated to have little or no social impact on the community, God must have other plans for the Artip’s. Their name is becoming commonly known in their area for providing innovative solutions to poor health, which has a correlation to unhealthy foods and lifestyles. Bees are the way to agriculture nourishment. For individuals to be the healthiest version of themselves, their environment plays a large factor into making that happen. The healthier the environment is in which people live, the greater the likelihood they will follow the same pursuit.
President of the WV Beekeeper Association, Louisa Householder, had a lot of great insights about the importance of Bee Farmers. She thinks that a younger more health-conscious generation is making an impact in the Bee industry because they are looking for value added foods. She explained, “Without bees there wouldn’t be any Apples.” Householder is certainly correct, in fact bees pollinate over 100 crops that are responsible for 90% of the food we eat, including alfalfa and clover that feeds our cattle. Without bees we would have less beef, milk and cheese. Other popular crops that are dependent on bees are cucumbers, cranberries, flax, grapes, kale, onions, parsley, plums, raspberries, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and watermelon.
Householder stated that small bee farms are vital for the bee industry because they can spread education about the importance of bees and they also pollinate their neighbor’s gardens and the community. She also stated that many people don’t realize the health benefits associated with pure honey. Regular honey that is often found in the isles of your local grocery store, is pasteurized and filtered. Pure honey has a natural antibiotic property thanks to special enzymes that the bees produce. Its pollen also contains good-for-you antioxidants and is purported to help with the effects of seasonal allergies. Regular honey will not have these benefits due to the pasteurization process.
Along with their pure honey, Bee Happy Farm has now opened their Amish Pantry which is stocked with an array of pure wholesome ingredients that will make your meals not only tasty, but healthy as well. So far, I have purchased naturally made noodles that I used to make my little one some delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. I also purchased oats, cocoa, flax seed, dark chocolate, and pure honey to make these amazing all-natural energy bites that my kids love! I enjoy taking our re-usable tote bag and letting my children choose which ingredients they would like to use to cook with throughout the week. When we go to the grocery store, they are mesmerized by fun and exciting packaging and don’t pay attention to what’s actually inside of them. Shopping at the Pantry is teaching my children new behaviors that I hope will continue to drive their ambition to live a healthy life.
The Farm is now offering lay-away plans for bee hives and taking pre-orders for needed equipment to help get future bee farmers prepared for the spring. They service customers from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio and welcome all future bee farmers to come meet their bees. They are hands on in providing knowledge to students, community members, and even government agencies. If you would like to contact Bee Happy Farm you can look them up on Facebook or contact Mary Ellen & Carl Artrip.
Ashley Hostetter is a LCHS graduate, and has earned an A.A. in Business Administration, an A.S. in Business Management, a B.A. in Business Administration, a Graduate Certificate in Public Health Administration, a M.A. in Community Development and is working on her PhD in Psychology. She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps Member and is a licensed MHTC. She is a mother of four and hopes to open her own mental health clinics for children in impoverished areas.