Laila Apiary was born in 2018 and is a small-scale family run operation. In fact, Laila is our family since it’s our initials combined – Levitte, Ava, Isaac, Asher and Lior. Our story doesn’t begin with an obsession with the environment or sustainability that led to keeping bees. It was a result of being parents, our numerous attempts at “successful” gardening (i.e. more than just an abundance of oregano and nothing else), and severe allergies. We’ll tackle these phases below to see how they came together.
Starting with allergies, it was later in life that I, Lior, started suffering from a chronic cough that would last through the winter. It was brutal since I didn’t have a good night’s sleep for over a year no matter what cough syrup was prescribed. It wasn’t until I saw a 5th doctor that I was finally diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis, and learned to live with my prescribed inhalers and periodic nebulizer treatments. Every time I had a chain of coughs, random strangers would tell me that the best thing to do was to take a teaspoon of honey every day since it helped them with their allergies. I didn’t attribute my condition to allergies though, so my response was always, “yeah, sure! I will give it a try”…never doing it…
Fast forward a few years later, we moved to our new home in Livingston. We were fortunate to find a home with an awesome backyard and we quickly started planning on where we would start our garden. Gardening was something my wife and I were obsessed with and we quickly got to work. Raised beds were built, lots of soil was transported, and what seemed like endless options of seed varieties were purchased. Year one: excitement followed by deer devastation. Year two: Feeling more secure since we raised a fence around the garden, and right before we were ready to get some vegetables…deer devastation (those guys can really jump!). Year three: success ended when a tree decided to fall on the garden. You can see a pattern here. Year four: something clicked and we were harvesting! You still could not make a salad, but it was something.
During this time, our family grew and we became parents of 3 young children. Gardening led us to start looking at what we were eating overall. We started cutting back on processed foods, making our own butter, bread, pasta, and sauces. Family traditions were forming! We also began buying honey to replace sugar in our food, and in our coffee. As we started to consume more honey, the concept of local became very important to us. Were we getting the right honey? (foreshadowing…) We would travel to Pennsylvania, or go to farmer’s markets to purchase honey. It just felt better getting it closer to the source. Interestingly enough, my reliance on inhalers started to drop, and my persistent cough almost vanished. I researched further, and realized that I need to ingest honey that is close to home. What we thought of local, and what was marketed as local was not local enough for us. We wanted honey produced from our surrounding plant-life which was the cause of my and my son’s allergies. We wanted honey produced in our backyard! So we did the only “logical” thing to do, get some bees.
It was at this point that we were fixated on becoming beekeepers. For one, we were tired of constantly buying large quantities of honey, and we were thinking of what pollinators would do for our gardening! Without hesitation, and “expertise” from some very light reading and some YouTube videos, I found myself driving to South Jersey to pick up a nucleolus colony from a beekeeper (a small colony of bees with a queen that are ready to go!). I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. Not from bees in general, but from the fact that I had an hour drive home and there were about 50 bees that escaped the seal of the hive flying around in the car. I was stung, both literally and spiritually to spread the benefits of bees to as many people as possible. It isn’t until you are truly involved in something so magical that you then realize the implications of everything that we do to our environment, personal health, and for future generations to come.
Going back to the start, what did not start with an obsession surely became one. It is our responsibility to take care of our local environment so it can spread further. We are now committed to provide an environment for these insects to thrive, and as a result we are enriched tenfold. We love that this involves our entire family, and I love beyond words when I hear my kids tell their friends “my daddy’s a beekeeper!” I forgot how important it is for our kids to be proud of us as much as we are proud of them.
Aside of working bees and producing honey, we started incorporating honey, wax and propolis into Levitte’s passion of skin care. BEEIndulgent was born in 2019 and you can learn more about it by visiting BEEIndulgent and BEEIndulgentCBD.
Thank you so much for reading our story and for your support of our apiary! This support allows us to continue caring for our family which includes our wonderful bees.