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Sweet Cheeks Farm & Apiary Showcases Magic Of Honey Bees

Allison Tolpa from the New Jersey-based family farm Sweet Cheeks Farm and Apiary tells us how sustainable bee practices bring joy to their community.

by Phillip MlynarMay 27, 2021
PHOTO: Sweet Cheeks Farm And Apiary

“We are never without food or something to snuggle and love around here,” says Allison Tolpa, founder of Sweet Cheeks Farm And Apiary in Chester, New Jersey.

The family farm originally developed from just “a garden and some chickens.” Then Tolpa rescued a mini-horse named Minimus. Next came a miniature donkey called Otis and then a pig known as Boris.

Now the venture has expanded to include a strong focus on bees and beeswax products.

We spoke to Tolpa about the positive lessons that children can learn from farming and becoming fascinated with bees. We also got the scoop on salted honey butter.

What’s in a Name?

The meaning behind the name Sweet Cheeks Farm And Apiary comes from Tolpa’s children.

“At the time all three of my kids had the most adorable chubby cheeks,” she recalls. “The inspiration has always come from wanting to teach my children that they were capable of growing, creating and making their own food while instilling compassion in them with the love and care of animals.”

Learning to Love Bees

When Tolpa’s son Benjamin showed an interest in bees, she went along to a class with him. They subsequently purchased their first hives.

“Our passion grew from there, and we have now expanded from selling honey from a farm stand on our property to having seven bee yards in New Jersey and selling both wholesale and retail,” she explains.

“Benjamin was also accepted into the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell for this fall. We are very proud of him and know he will continue to do great things for this Earth.”

Read more: Ready to buy some bees? Here are ways to get your hives buzzing.

Breaking down Bee Behavior

“The most interesting thing about bees to us is their complex social relationships and communication,” says Tolpa when asked about the fascinating nature of bees.

“They are able to communicate with each other with ease through pheromones and vibrations in order to keep everything in the hive running smoothly, from nectar and honey collection to building comb.”

Queen Bee Qualities

When it comes to the role of the queen bee, Tolpa says that “even though she is called the queen, she does not really have the same authority that we think about when talking about human society.”

Instead, Tolpa says, queen bees fulfill a function as the “brood layer.” This in turn helps ensure the hive runs efficiently.

Read more: Beekeeper and Tik Tok superstar Erika Thompson is all about her bees!

Recipe Testing Salted Honey Butter

Sweet Cheeks Farm And Apiary recently posted to their Instagram account about a little something called salted honey butter. Tolpa says that honey should be “respected like a fine bourbon or wine.”

She adds, “We just love to enhance it and bring out the complex botanical qualities the bees already create with things like sea salt. It turns the honey into something slightly different but allows it to pair beautifully with an aged fine cheese or simply with a piece of dark chocolate.

“[It’s] two simple ingredients that can be integrated, leaving you with a healthier more complex option to salted caramel.”

The Magic of Honey Bees

“The most rewarding part is seeing the impact it has had on my children, as well as the children and families who come visit,” says Tolpa, reflecting on the joys of pursuing a family farming lifestyle.

“We teach a beekeeping class with a farm tour, and it’s so nice to see everyone amazed about the magic of honey bees. They leave here with a love and appreciation of them and the wonder of nature itself.”

Follow Sweet Cheeks Farm And Apiary at Instagram.

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