BELLINGHAM, Wash. — You can be a rooftop beekeeper for a day in the Fairhaven Historic District.
Marisa Papetti, owner of Marie’s Bees, keeps about 100 hives throughout Whatcom County – but two of them offer a one-of-a-kind experience on top of the Sycamore Square building.
“It is just a beautiful, special spot,” she said. "They love it up here."
Hundreds of honey bees live inside her two rooftop hives and small groups can book tours of the space.
"We have people come from all over the world, they contact us, we suit them up and they get to be a beekeeper for a day,” Papetti said.
The hive tour includes gear (beekeeping suits and gloves), a description of the pollinators and the roles they play in the hive, sampling fresh honey, and hands-on experience with parts of the hive.
Despite the city setting, pollen is abundant in the hills nearby and the first thing visitors experience when Papetti opens a hive is the fresh, floral scent.
"That's one of the best smells in the whole world,” she said.
But the most profound part of the tour happens when the bees start getting restless.
Papetti tells tour guests that bees feed off their energy, so the best thing to do is remain as calm as possible. When visitors settle, the bees also settle.
The result is a form of relaxation she says changed her life.
"These guys have taught me so much,” Papetti said. “They teach you sometimes you only have five minutes - but if you can just relax for six, you'll be fine."
When the tour ends, the bees go back to their homes and guests leave with a jar of raw, unfiltered honey straight from the hives.
"I hope that they understand bees aren't something to be afraid of anymore,” Papetti said. “You don't run from bees, you help the bees.”
Tours can be booked through Papetti’s website. They run through September.