Buzzing for Bees: An Interview with the Honey Sommelier
Behind the Screens
Marina Marchese is a person of many talents. We first learned about her work as America's sole honey sommelier, but were then delighted to discover a kindred spirit who explores many methods of creative thinking. Read our interview with Marina below, and don't forget to join her guided honey tasting at FV's studio on May 8th (the perfect Mother's Day gift to you or a mom you love!).
Flat Vernacular: What made you become interested in bees and honey?
Marina Marchese: My introduction to honeybees was in 2000, when I met my neighbor who was beekeeper. I like to remind people that at that time we were not talking about farmers markets, organic food and saving bees so it was quite unusual to meet a beekeeper especially one that was female.
FV: How can people help protect our bee population?
MM: Protecting our bees, pollinators and all wildlife begins with protecting our environment, natural resources and ultimately our planet. Refrain from using pesticides, herbicides and any harmful chemicals in your garden and property. Plant, plant and plant more…native pollinator plants that produce nectar and pollen throughout the entire season. These can be ornamentals or edibles. Bees are attracted to sunflowers as much as cucumbers and pumpkins.
FV: Your artwork and branding for Red Bee has been acknowledged for its innovative design! Has your connection to bees and nature inspired your design work? If so, can you describe how?
MM: I studied design and illustration at SVA in NYC and had a stellar career. Many things changed over the years and when bees entered my life I saw an opportunity to combine my love of design with honey production and Red Bee Honey was born. I truly believe that design and branding along with customer service were instrumental in the success of Red Bee. Truly, I am not a sales person but customers buy with their eyes and if it tastes good to, you’ve won them over.
FV: What fascinates you the most about honey and bees?
MM: Gosh, like most people I had no relationship to the natural world and where our food comes from. The fact that honeybees pollinate 80% or more of our food was mind blowing and to think I lived much of my life being terrified of bees. Honestly, without honeybees we would have to cancel some of our most beloved holidays. What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin and pecan pie? Cranberry sauce? Brussels sprouts or green beans? Imagine no pumpkins or gourds at Halloween? No chocolate bunnies at Easter, no morning coffee or orange juice. No cotton blue jeans? Honeybees pollinate all these and make our lives so much better. Fascinating stuff!
FV: Is there any research happening in the bee world that is exciting you currently?
MM: There is always on going research regarding honeybees around the world. Most of it revolves around honey bee health and nutrition. Since honeybees are considered agricultural livestock - similar to cow and chickens because they produce out food, they are susceptible to pest and diseases. You can be sure honeybees are well researched and we are always learning from them.
FV: If you had to pick a favorite of your Red Bee Honey, which would it be and why?
MM: My favorite honeys are the rare, exotic and complex in flavor. I am intrigued by the most unusual flavors of coriander honey. It is described as coconut and sun tan lotion.
FV: What is your personal favorite cuisine and honey pairing?
MM: Honey is paired best with cheeses, my favorite is Ricotta or plain Icelandic yogurt with berries and nuts drizzled with honey. Crusty toasted Wave hill bread with evoo and honey.
FV: How would you like our guests to feel after leaving the workshop?
MM: Inspired to plant some flowers and to explore the diverse world of honeys.
FV: You inspire us by following your curiosity - what would you say to someone who is curious about something new?
MM: Always follow your curiosity, it can become your next passion and ultimately change your life. I never thought I would find my second act in honeybees.