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Our Beekeeper

Seth Croteau, Beekeeper

How did you get interested in Beekeeping? What is your philosophy regarding the creation of sustainable bee populations?

My wife and I have grown up around farms in Pomfret, Putnam, and Woodstock. I worked in my parents garden with my grandmother. I was one of eight children, so growing our own food certainly helped make ends meet. The garden was enormous, and we grew everything from fresh produce to potatoes to squash. I learned early on how to grow our best food without using chemicals and with plants that grow compactly allowing us to fit a variety of foods within space. 40 years later, my interest in beekeeping really began when my wife and I started making use of our 1/10-acre property in Jewett City to maximize our food independence. As time went on, I began to understand that we weren’t getting the pollination rates that we wanted to grow the best food efficiently. I spent parts of the next five years researching honeybees, the greatest group of managers of pollination on the planet.

I have a real passion for bees. Give me a smoker, and about 20 hours of time with the bees and I’m the happiest guy. I bought my first nucleus hive from Full Bloom apiaries and in about 6 weeks they began to SWARM…I was able to re-capture them, but that was a lesson I’ll never forget…Hearing the buzz, realizing they were out of the enclosure, but still hanging out nearby was scary and exhilarating at the same time. From there I went from one hive to two hives to 22 hives today….upwards of 35 next year.

Along the way I have learned from the best of the best. I get truly excited when I find people involved in the methodology. I have a mentor from New Britain who I purchased five colonies from when he was set to retire. That was the beginning of my apiary expansion in earnest.  He has this natural innate sense for the bees that I have been able tap into and make my own.  Another mentor that I am excited to meet this summer is Mike Palmer from St. Albans in Vermont. Mike has adopted methods from as far back as the 1800’s, from monasteries in England on how to make bees and bee-hives sustainable. In other words, creating and using native stock to make more bees as opposed to buying ready-made hives with quite often sub-quality queens.


Create our own nucleus colonies for purchase and very soon, I would like to be rearing our own queens. Very much a plug-in-play: bees that are raised locally, separated out with their own queen, complete with workers, drones, the entire community. Sustainability is the key for Connecticut. We need to stop buying from outside the state, and conversely, within the state, we need to create more environments for bees to accumulate. One way to help is to stop mowing the grass on the sides of roads. It helps bees forage. (They will forage sometimes up to five miles!)  Some feel that our bee population is in trouble. We have more beekeepers, but overall, less hives. Disease and Varroa mites are a threat as well as a monoculture focused on corn. Unfortunately for bees, there is nothing for them in corn.


How to make that Apiary buzz! We’ve re-established the boxes since they were out of circulation. Many of the changes were cosmetic, others directly helped the bees by changing from plastic inserts to woodware. We assessed the environment for a  couple of months and then prepared a plan on how to get the bees through the winter. Our biggest task is to keep them from swarming. When they are angry, they communicate in a whole different language.

The maximum benefit for the spa is obviously in the amount of honey that is produced for their use in spa treatments and recipes for Kensington’s Restaurant. Managed properly, on average one hive should produce 80 to 120 pounds of honey. My main task will be to get the bees to work in a sustainable fashion. They’ll let me know how often to check on them…


“We generated just short of 130lbs of honey from a harvest at the end of July. Our honey products are primarily used in our culinary preparations as well as our honeybee treatments and seasonal spa services. We also sell our honey by the jar in the Boutique, so stop by and take some home!”

John O’Shaughnessy
President & General Manager, The Spa at Norwich Inn