Island to Table: Long Island’s hard-working honey bees


By Emily Mancini

It’s early morning in the East End. While most sleepy commuters are just starting to brew their coffee, Tom Tyrell’s honey bees already are busy at work.

Tom’s Honey Bees manages around 100 hives in apiaries across Long Island, with locations on the East End and the South Shore, and in Middle Island and Western Suffolk. Owner and longtime beekeeper Tom Tyrell has been keeping hives for over two decades, and his bees are extremely well adapted to the local climate.

“We are beekeepers, not a honey marketing company like so many others,” the Tom’s Honey Bees website proudly proclaims. “We actually keep bees that make a local honey crop and we invite you to compare our fresh local honey to any other.”

The hardy little pollinators have an important job to do. They flit around the bee yard like – sometimes resembling commuters in their cars on the Long Island Expressway – collecting nectar from local wildflowers. Once the bees get back to the hive, this sweet nectar is made into pure, raw honey.

Tom’s Honey Bees bottles and sells this natural honey, as well as beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, natural soap, lip balm, beeswax candles and bees themselves. The company also offers pollination services to Long Island farmers to support their fruit and vegetable crops.

The culmination of all that hard work will be celebrated July 30 at the Island to Table Event in Patchogue. Diners will get to experience the flavors of locally produced food, including Tom’s fresh local honey, prepared by the Island’s top local chefs. Tickets are $150.

Proceeds support local, sustainable food and HomeGrown Change, a local nonprofit organization. Last year’s funds helped HomeGrown build pollinator gardens behind the Carnegie Library, which are frequented by the area’s butterflies and bees.

Top: Three jars of Tom’s Honey Bees’ honey (courtesy)