Overflowing with honey and bee-inspired products, the new Harvard Square store “Follow the Honey” not only sells merchandise but also hosts educational Skype sessions and honey-themed concerts.
Founded by longtime Cambridge resident and graduate of Emerson College Mary W. Canning, the store, located at 1132 Mass Ave., focuses on providing many varieties of honey—local, national, and international.
A “Honey on Tap” feature allows customers to purchase jars of honey, which they refill with whatever variety of honey is on tap.
But the store’s owners seek to do far more than just sell honey. According to Caneen Canning, Mary’s daughter and the store’s art designer, the store tries to create an environment honoring the “ancientness of it all—bees and their history that is far larger than us.”
Mary hopes to educate interested visitors about the process of beekeeping and its history by hosting weekly Skype conferences with beekeepers and authors. Mary said they plan to expand the store by adding a multimedia center and a library devoted to bee related literature.
“Follow The Honey” is also hosting a show titled “Cirque de Miel” at Club Oberon on Sept. 5. The show will feature honey-inspired acts, including a performance by aerialist Seanna Sharpe, who was recently arrested after scaling and performing on the Williamsburg Bridge, and singer/songwriter and Cambridge native Natti Vogel.
“Honey has always been an inspiration for poets and writers,” Vogel said. “There’s something incredibly...fascinating, how slowly it moves—sashays.”
The store’s design is also inspired by the creation of honey, drawing on the image of a hive.
Caneen directed a team of local artists this summer to create the interior design, which includes laced tablecloths hand-dipped in beeswax, layered beeswax furniture, and an outside area where Mary envisions having community gatherings.
“It’s great for the city to be a hive for creative types,” Vogel said. “People do have honey in common, and Mary’s bringing an energy to it. She’s a great supporter of young artists.”
Mary found her passion for bees during her late husband’s fight with bone cancer, when she found solace visiting beekeepers in central Massachusetts. She later traveled to southern India and met with female beekeepers there.
“I was touched by how beautiful working with honey is,” Mary said. “There’s such a patriarchal tradition in the sciences, but I met all these women who invest themselves in it.”
Mary started beekeeping herself after her trip to India, and she began by selling honey at local farmers’ markets, including at Harvard and at the Charles River.
Mary said she sees bees and honey as something memorable and special to many people.
“Whatever degree they have a history or a memory with bees, there’s dynamic and engaged feelings about bees and honey,” Mary said.
—Staff writer Kerry M. Flynn can be reached at email@example.com.
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