We had the good fortune of connecting with Lacey Bray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lacey, how does your business help the community?
Zodiac Apiaries was created to build community. Though I own and operate a full service apiary (for honey bees), the purpose of the business is to connect people to pollinators through experiences. Just like people, bees have different personality traits. Some are better honey producers, some are more feisty, and some build artistic comb with tunnels, for example. I name my beehives after the different signs of the zodiac to help people understand that though bees have their own strengths and weaknesses (like people) they have to work together for the good of the hive. I think we should celebrate our differences and can learn to love our community even more in doing so. Pollinators are the catalyst for that movement. It is the goal of Zodiac Apiaries.
One of my favorite services we do are hive tours. On a hive tour, you can come to the Apiary, and meet the bees of a particular ‘sign’. We will open up the hives together, and I’ll teach you everything you need to know about honey bee democracy, society and biology. Then we take our bee suits off and spend some time together getting to know each other. We are humans of the same hive- neighbors, colleagues, friends. People that come on these hive tours are people you’ve stood next to in line at the grocery store, or shared the same view of traffic at a stoplight on US1. Zodiac Apiaries celebrates that. We should know our neighbors, and our neighborhoods. The apiary is a safe space where we can learn from one another, AND learn about pollinators. Once you come on a hive tour, you’ll become a ‘human of the hive’. I’ll tell your story, and hopefully connect you to other people in our community. Its People, Pollinators and Community.
Worldwide, honey bees are known as a sort of ‘gateway’ to other pollinators. You’ve heard it before- save the honey bees! And yes, honey bees are in trouble, but so are our native bees, our bats, moths and butterflies. If spending a few hours in the Apiary opens up a tiny bit of curiosity about honey bees and pollinators, then for me, it’s a successful day at work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been beekeeping for a little over 6 years, and have always done it alone. In my full time job, I do a lot of hands on education, so when I started Zodiac Apiaries, education really was the heart of it. I wanted to connect with people in our neighborhoods and use pollinators as a commonality to do so. So, I had to change the way I thought about beekeeping. Inviting the public into the apiary meant adding a whole additional layer of ‘work’ to my hobby. Beekeeping itself is not easy. There is a huge learning curve, and many mysteries within the trade. Most days it’s extremely hot, the equipment is bulky, heavy, and full of 50,000 stinging insects. It can be very hard, both physically and mentally. Also, beekeepers across the United States struggle with disease, pesticide abuse, and all sorts of curveballs. But, there are days where I get to see someone’s face light up the first time they spot a queen bee, or taste honey directly from a hive. Those days, the challenges are worth it. There is a lot of peace and presence in beekeeping. It forces you to slow down and focus on being in the moment. Aside from the actual keeping of bees, I’m doing everything else ‘business related’ myself. That’s the social media, the back end admin work, troubleshooting website problems, talking to customers and clients, handling orders and financials, management of equipment, all the things. For me, time management has become very important and I really have to set aside time to ‘work on Zodiac Apiaries after working my full time job. It’s a labor of love that I think all small business owners can empathize with. I’m determined, excited, and passionate about this project, so that keeps me the most busy!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a question that I ask all of the people that come on hive tours, so over time I’ve gotten a collection of local gems. For me, it’s anything hyper local. Miami has SO much to do and see, and it can’t possibly be covered in a week, or even a year. So, when people come to town, I like to give them a more authentic experience of what I think Miami is at it’s best. I love to take friends down south to the Redlands and homestead. This is where so much of the produce comes from to feed the rest of America. We have access to the freshest local produce, and so many of us don’t even know it. I love the Fruit and Spice Park, so we’d probably go there. If it’s season, we’d pick strawberries at Knauss Berry Farms, and then visit some nurseries around the area. I live in coconut grove, and it’s still my favorite neighborhood in Miami. Theres so much history there, so exploring there definitely on the to-do list when friends come to town. There is SO much to do in Miami, but a perfect list includes museums, gardens, restaurants and something on the water.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My story couldn’t be told without community. Our community is what encourages me and helps me to succeed. Learning from each other and creating a respect for our neighbors and the space we share is a huge part of what I do at Zodiac Apiaries- so the shout out is for them! To the neighbors that take the time to learn about and support pollinators, and to those I haven’t met yet!