Golden Stage Inn is proud to offer sustainable toiletries and local ingredients to our guests. We keep backyard farm animals and honeybees, and are interested in promoting sustainability, local businesses, and eco-friendly events. Visit Vermont to stay green!

National Honey Month in May – Celebrate Honey Bees!

Happy National Honey Bee Awareness month!

At the Golden Stage Inn, we love love LOVE our bees.  Here are some great bee facts and trivia to celebrate National Honey Month.  We hope some of these stories and tidbits inspire you to take a peek at honey bee activism, beekeeping, or the hives at Golden Stage Inn.

  • For guests who want to tour a honey bee hive, warm weather is just around the corner.  Join us on a sunny day to take a look at honey bees busy in their hive collecting nectar and raising brood.  Golden Stage Inn will provide protective beekeeper’s clothing and all the information you could ask for.  Learn all about honey bees’ social lives, ecology, environmental threats, and taste the sweet rewards of honey galore.
  • Did you know that honey bees dance?  It’s true!  While the dances are awfully cute and a joy to watch, they are not all fun and games.  Honey bee dancing is an intelligent form of communication.  Scout bees go out to find great forage, which means places with lots of flowers and nectar.  They come back and tell the rest of the hive about the special spot they found.  The dance tells every other bee how far away the flowers are, which direction to go, and how good of a forage spot it is.  Check it out!
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  • Though the VT Golden Honey Festival is several months away (the date is set for September 13th!), you can get a glimpse of the festivals joys by examining our backyard beehives and tasting pure raw honey.
  • This May, Innkeeper Julie is installing new bees into the hives.  Sadly, the old hives did not make it through the rough winter, perhaps due to lack of forage in the summer or extreme cold in the winter.  The date is not exact, but if you’re around the area in early May, check in to see when our bed & breakfast’s new bees will arrive!
  • The Honey Month in May helps raise awareness about the importance of honey bees to agriculture and the ecosystem.  Did you know that 100% of almond trees are pollinated by honey bees?!  If this species were to go extinct, there would be no more almonds…ever!  Other important crops dependent on honey bees include:
    • apples
    • coffee
    • avocados
    • limes
    • watermelons
    • sunflowers
    • clover and alfalfa (essential for dairy & farm animals!)
    • cucumbers
    • all sorts of berries
    • lemons
    • beans…
    • the list goes on!  Read about all of the crops that honey bees help pollinate here.
  • $14.6 billion sounds like a lot, huh?  If you put a price on the honey bees species value, that was the going rate in the year 2000!  Due to inflation, increased demand, and an increasing human population, it’s likely that honey bees are even more valuable today.
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You can help the honey bees too!

Start a backyard beehive, or if it’s too much work or you are allergic to bees, support your local beekeepers in their work.  Learn more about colony collapse disorder and help educate others.  Visit the Golden Stage Inn to get a live honey bee hive tour, or stop by during VT Golden Honey Festival on September 13th, 2014 for educational workshops and honeybee-related vendors.


Honey Bees work hard to create honey out of nectar from flowers. Did you know one honey bee will create only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime? …it takes a hive! [Image courtesy the Grafton Nature Museum]

A Maple Syrup Vacation in Vermont

It’s finally here!  Sugaring season in Vermont kicks off with the Maple Syrup Open House Tour this weekend.

Taking a maple syrup trip is certainly a vacation off the beaten path – and one well worth it!  Vermont is a state that knows how to do its festivals right.  If getting out and getting active during the chilly days of March isn’t enough of a reason to stay at Golden Stage Inn during sugaring season, here’s a whole list…


Maple Madness at Woodstock, VT will add excitement to your Vermont maple syrup tour.

Go crazy with all the fun events planned in the quaint Vermont village of Woodstock.  Eat maple butter popcorn on the green and participate in a scavenger hunt…maybe you’ll win a basket full of maple prizes!  For any cyclists out there, an Epic Bike Ride on Sunday will connect you between sugarhouses.  A sap bucket auction will be great fun for art collectors as local Vermont artists have individually painted each one.


Tour several great sugar houses just down the road from the Golden Stage Inn.

Green Mountain Sugar House will be open both days from 10 am to 5 pm and boiling with modern equipment, weather permitting.  All day there will be free Sugar-on-Snow, coffee, and donuts with maple cream for visitors.  Papa John’s Sugar Shack in Mount Holly is also very close by our Bed & Breakfast and will have free maple cotton candy.  In the other direction, you can get to Mitch’s Maple in Chester to learn about the process of sugaring from tapping to the finished product.

2014 brings new developments to the Maple Syrup Industry in Vermont!

This year, Vermont has adopted a new grading system of maple syrup.  During your maple vacation, learn the difference by taste.  Do you prefer Golden with a Delicate Taste, or Very Dark with Strong Taste?  How do you know which one to use for pancakes versus baking?  You may also learn about the new technique of tapping maple saplings, which increases the amount of maple syrup produced per acre tenfold!


Vermont books and radio will tell you the detailed story of maple syrup.

A maple syrup tour wouldn’t be complete without the story behind the product.  Listen to VPR’s program about the changes in maple sugaring over the past couple centuries.  A rebroadcast of VPR’s 2002 maple program profiles modern day maple sugar producers and features a song by Pete Seeger called “Maple Syrup Time.”  Two of Vermont’s best books about maple syrup and sugaring will be out in the Golden Stage Inn’s cozy living room for you to enjoy during your down time.

And last but not least, Vermont maple syrup is the way to go for any and all maple recipes!

Bring your maple syrup tour back home with you in a bottle and try out all types of recipes from the websites below.

Maple Syrup Goes to Dinner – And Drinks from NPR’s ‘The Kitchen Window’ has two dinner recipes, a maple pecan pie recipe, and shows you how to make “The Old Vermont Cocktail.”

The Vermont Sugar Maker’s Association has nineteen different tried and true recipes using VT maple syrup.  Some of them include videos to show you the cooking process in detail.

Finally, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets has compiled a lengthy list of maple syrup recipes from Vermont residents and businesses.  The first recipe is from a bed and breakfast owner!


Extend the winter season with a maple tour of Vermont.  The Golden Stage Inn can recommend the best places and events near our Ludlow bed and breakfast, as well as some unique maple products found nowhere but Vermont!  All images used in this blog post are courtesy

A Beekeeping Workshop with Renowned Vermont Natural Beekeeper

Honey bees are an essential fact of the innkeeping life here at Golden Stage Bed and Breakfast.

Our hive tours entertain and educate guests; the harvest season brings folks from far and near to our annual Honey Harvest Festival; and, of course, the golden reward of raw honey from the inn’s backyard sweetens guests’ morning tea and breakfast treats year-round.

Golden Stage Inn Honey bee hives in winter

Julie and I attended a natural beekeeping conference this weekend with renowned organic beekeeper Ross Conrad of Dancing Bee Gardens in Middlebury, Vermont.  Ross Conrad wrote the first book in the United States about organic beekeeping practices, so naturally we had to check this out!  The beekeeping workshop was part of Grafton Nature Museum’s 2014 Adult and Family Programs.  The theme this year is ‘The Birds and the Bees.’  Conrad also did a presentation for this series that Julie attended a few weeks ago about Colony Collapse Disorder.  Coming up this week is a talk with Sara Zahendra about Native Bumblebees, and on April 9th, Bridget Butler ‘The Bird Diva’ will present a workshop on bird-watching!

So, back to the organic beekeeping workshop…

Though I have not yet started my own backyard beekeeping, I figured I could still pick up some advice or inspiration from the talk.  Sure enough, I walked away with my head positively buzzing with knowledge and excitement about keeping bees.  Here, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I learned from Ross Conrad!

  1. Treat your bees well.  Some people buy hives with the expectation of having a low-maintenance pet.  Bees should be cared for just as you would any other livestock or living creature.  Visit their hives once a week; be attune to their state of health; do what is natural and good for the bees rather than simply caring about the size of your honey harvest.
  2. To begin beekeeping, learn by doing!  As a beginning beekeeper myself, I really took this message to heart.  I can attend as many talks as I want, and read every book about bees, but that will not make me a good beekeeper!  The best way to learn beekeeping is to do it.  Just as in real life, we must learn from our failures.  Conrad said, “When your hive fails, that colony was giving you a gift.  They are helping you learn from your mistakes and be a better beekeeper in the future.”  A beekeeper must take that opportunity to learn – to evaluate what went wrong and how she or he can do better next time.  There are local beekeeping clubs to help you get started with networking all across the country.
  3. There is no correct way to keep bees.  Every beekeeper has their own method.  Some are organic, some use pesticides.  Some are hobby beekeepers, some are commercial.  Everyone has their own philosophy and rules when it comes to honey bees, and you will figure out your own once you spend time with your hives.
  4. Always control for mites. Ross Conrad’s three priorities with raising bees are health, honey and dryness.  Keeping your bees healthy comes first!  If you do nothing for varroa mites, which every hive will inevitably deal with, your bees will have weakened immune systems.  This means their chances of succumbing to diseases, pests or difficult weather conditions will be threatened.  Conrad listed many ways of controlling for varroa mites organically, so that your bees and honey are not exposed to pesticides or toxins.
  5. If you hold a bee in your hand, the world will be beautiful… because beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder!

Dancing Bee Gardens Raw Honey

Visit Vermont to meet the honey bees at Golden Stage Inn bed and breakfast and sample some local honey!  Stay tuned to hear about our bee installation this spring.

Vermont Zombie Honey Bees caused by Parasitic Fly

The honey bees at the Golden Stage Inn are waiting out the winter to make another delicious batch of local Vermont honey this summer, but always on a backyard beekeeper’s mind is the threat of what is known as “Colony Collapse Disorder.” While the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder remains a mystery and may be more complicated than one simple answer, a parasitic fly may have something to do with it. Before October 2013, this parasite had not been observed any further East than South Dakota…but a recent spotting will cause concern for Vermont beekeepers this summer. The phenomenon of ‘Zombie Bees’ (or even ‘ZomBees‘) has reached Vermont and now threatens the East Coast. See where Zombie Honey Bees have been spotted across the United States using this map, and visit to help monitor the spread of the ZomBee syndrome through citizen science.

Vermont Zombie Honey Bee killed by Parasitic Fly

Save our pollinators!

The parasitic fly causing the zombie-like infection is called Apocephalus borealis, and has been known since the 1920’s as a parasite of yellow jackets and bumble bees. John Hafernik discovered that the zombie fly infected honey bees as well in 2008, just two years after colony collapse disorder began to affect honey bees and their hives. Apocephalus borealis lays its eggs in the stomach of the honeybee. The infected honey bee leaves its hive, exhibiting symptoms such as nocturnal activity, attraction to light, and disoriented, spasmodic movement. It is this convulsive movement that the term “ZomBee” came from, as the bees move very similarly to zombies in Hollywood movies. They are not actually undead; they simply appear to be. When the eggs hatch, the honey bee dies. Unfortunately, Vermont was the first state in the East Coast to record a sighting of this parasitic attack back in October 2013 in Burlington. It is unknown whether these Vermont zombie honey bees are an isolated case or a forewarning of more Apocephalus borealis infestations to come.

Colony collapse disorder is a serious threat to both backyard beekeepers and large-scale, commercial beekeepers. Since 1/3 of the fruits and vegetables we eat depend upon bees to be pollinated, this disorder doesn’t just affect the insects – it affects our cuisine and nutrition as people!  Vermont zombie honey bees may be a new threat to beehives across Vermont or even New England, which is why it’s important to continue research and become a beekeeper! Even if you are not a beekeeper and don’t plan on keeping honeybees, you can help in other ways. Purchase local Vermont honey as your sweetener. Welcome beekeepers to your community. Know what chemicals and pesticides have been found to harm honey bees and contribute to colony collapse disorder. Plant a bee-friendly garden with native wildflowers. Learning about bees is not just environmentally-conscious…it is fascinating and fun!!

Bzzzz. -Sophi Veltrop, Golden Stage Inn Undead Insect Researcher

Stay Green and enjoy Vermont local food with our sustainable B&B!

Did you know the Golden Stage Inn is a member of Vermont Fresh Network and Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State?

Our VT B&B is sustainable, green, environmentally-conscious and eco-friendly

Our bed and breakfast is proud of making a commitment to being sustainable, green, eco-friendly…whatever the trendy term may be for caring responsibly about our environment! This means serving Vermont local foods and using green products at the inn. Being eco-friendly is especially important in the state of Vermont, where the natural beauty and wildlife of mountains, forests and waterways is central to VT identity. As a member of Green Hotels of the Green Mountain State, we recycle and compost as much as possible, in addition to buying recycled products when we can. Julie recently noticed that every cleaning product used at the inn is eco-friendly, a development to be proud of! Every time plumbing is redone, such as with toilets and shower heads, Golden Stage Inn uses low-flow appliances to replace old plumbing, thus conserving water. All these efforts are testament to an ever-evolving and continual effort to green our bed and breakfast business. Green Hotels of the Green Mountains must show “a commitment to pollution prevention and exemplary environmental stewardship,” as the website says. We hope you can see this stewardship each time you stay at our Southeastern VT inn!

We are a member of the Vermont Fresh Network as an inn and B&B

We are also pleased to be a part of the Vermont Fresh Network, which allows us to connect with many Vermont local food producers as we prepare breakfasts and goodies for guests. Some of our farm-to-table partners include Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Jersey Girls Farm Cafe and Market, Wellwood Orchards, and Crowley Cheese. The bacon served at breakfast is smoked just down the road at Singleton’s General Store. Most importantly, we supply our own eggs, honey, and sometimes herbs from our backyard free-range hens and honeybee hives. Summer offers fresh local fruit and vegetables from farms in the Okemo Valley…and it would be blasphemous to not have an ample supply of Vermont maple syrup on hand for your morning pancakes and waffles!

For the Golden Stage Inn, sustainability is about more than Vermont local foods, green cleaning products and memberships. Sustainability is a mentality, a conversation, and a way of life. We hope you’ll see for yourself that Vermont is committed to the environment in so many ways, and that our local connections and economies can do wonders to maintaining a safe and green world for future generations.


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