Pour one out for the local beekeepers. In the course of caring for thousands — sometimes millions — of buzzing pollinators, they’re also contending with colony collapse, pesticide losses and disease. It’s a job for a true obsessive, said Jason Scarlatta, the co-owner of Dry Run Honey Company in Wolfsville.
Luckily, he is one.
“It’s the most addictive thing I’ve ever done,” said Scarlatta, who discovered beekeeping after a heart attack in late 2014.
As he spent the next few months recovering, he also spent close to $5,000 on books and manuals. In the spring of 2015, he and his wife Shelby fully invested, buying two nucleus colonies and a small patch of farmland in Wolfsville. They named the business Dry Run Honey Company, a nod to the creek that runs through a neighboring property.
For Jason, the investment grew into a full-time lifestyle. His hives have waxed and waned in the face of natural parasites like Varroa mites, a bloodsucking pest that attacks honeybee drones. Last Christmas, an infestation of the mites wiped out the colonies he spent the last two years cultivating.
“It was heartbreaking,” Scarlatta said. “I mean, you’re talking thousands of bees, just gone.”
He and Shelby were forced to rebuild this spring with 22 new hives in neat stacks across two plots in Wolfsville. Shelby surrounded the bees with cherries, raspberries, blueberries — even hardy varieties of figs and pecans. The woods around the property are filled with black locusts, sourwoods, and tulip poplars, local trees that saturate the honey with a distinct terroir, so to speak.
“It’s amazing when you taste some of those flavors,” Shelby said.
The couple keeps the honey raw and unfiltered to preserve the unique taste, and the resulting jars are wonderfully syrupy with a distinct floral aroma. They’re the perfect complement to biscuits, pancakes and cocktails, or as a sweet foil to a summer charcuterie board. I even bought a bottle to use as a replacement for granulated sugar in a strawberry tart. The filling was gorgeous — just one reason why the honey is my favorite thing in Frederick this week.