THIS QUEEN BEE IS BUSY KEEP­ING THE BUZZ ALIVE

Laura Sil­ver­man meets a fam­ily whose three-storey house is a liv­ing shrine to all things apian

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Property -

It is one thing to bring work home with you and an­other to fur­nish your home with con­stant re­minders of your job. Yet Sarah Orec­chia, founder of Un­beel­iev­able Health, has done just that. Orec­chia is on a mis­sion to “save the bees” by rais­ing aware­ness of their dy­ing num­bers through a range of health prod­ucts; The Bee­hive, her fam­ily home in Not­ting Hill, west Lon­don, re­flects her ded­i­ca­tion. With a bee­hive light in the liv­ing room and a yel­low cof­fee-maker in the kitchen, a cynic might find this three-storey house a bit gim­micky. But Orec­chia and her hus­band, Emilio, ap­pear gen­uinely pas­sion­ate about their cause. The cou­ple live with their two chil­dren, El­iz­a­beth, 13, and Amelia, 11, and their ter­rier, Os­car. For the past 15 months, they have shuf­fled be­tween this house, which they have just put up for sale, and a rented property nearby. “We’ve used both places for flex­i­bil­ity and space, guests and en­ter­tain­ing,” says Orec­chia. “It’s been fun, but we now want ev­ery­thing un­der one roof.” Orec­chia has spent much of her life be­tween two places. At 19, she moved from Mis­sis­sippi to Lon­don to study. She then met Emilio, who had a job in New York, and they lived be­tween Bri­tain and the US. It was the trav­el­ling that in­spired Orec­chia’s busi­ness plan. “I was look­ing for some­thing that would stop us get­ting sick from all the flights, and propo­lis [a resin col­lected by hon­ey­bees] kept com­ing up,” she says. “I thought I’d de­velop a for­mula.” Orec­chia wanted the busi­ness to have “a higher pur­pose”, and soon re­alised how well her pro­posal linked to the con­cern that bees were un­der threat from pes­ti­cides, dis­ease and a de­cline in wild-flower meadows where they col­lect nec­tar and pollen. A range of prod­ucts, she thought, would draw at­ten­tion to bees’ plight, and she would give “a por­tion” to “bee causes”. Since 1900, more than 20 species of bee have van­ished, and more than a quar­ter of the re­main­ing 267 species are un­der threat. Friends of the Earth has re­cently cre­ated a Great Bri­tish Bee app to al­low users to track bee num­bers. The health claims for bee propo­lis are, of course, hardly new. It is thought to be an an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory, and was used by the Greeks and Ro­mans to heal wounds. But Un­beel­iev­able Health, which was set up four years ago, is cash­ing in on a re­vival of in­ter­est in nat­u­ral reme­dies and all things “bee”. Given its al­leged ben­e­fits (Orec­chia says her “well­ness for­mula” can help with di­ets, 1Na­tional bee­keep­ing beginners’ kit The per­fect starter kit for budding bee­keep­ers. From £387, thorne.co.uk 2Bee­haus, the ul­ti­mate mod­ern bee­hive, avail­able in five colours to suit your gar­den or rooftop. £499, om­let.co.uk 3All- in-one bee­keeper’s pro­tec­tive suit comes in an ar­ray of colours, in­clud­ing lilac and daf­fodil. Suits are also avail­able for chil­dren. £85.94, pay­nes­bee­farm. co.uk 4Elec­tric smoker. Stain­less steel smoker with bat­tery-op­er­ated fan. £17.50, thorne.co.uk 5Collins Bee­keeper’s Bi­ble. A com­pre­hen­sive bee­keep­ing re­source that cov­ers all the es­sen­tials, in­clud­ing hive man­age­ment. £30, foyles.co.uk colds, flu, hay fever, sports and exam stress) and its bee-friendly im­age, it’s no won­der that the Un­beel­iev­able range has taken off. Even Gwyneth Pal­trow and Vic­to­ria Pendle­ton are said to be fans. The most strik­ing fea­ture of Orec­chia’s house is a 2ft high bee­hive light in the liv­ing room, bought at the De­sign­ers­block fair at the South­bank Cen­tre about 10 years ago. “On the in­ter­net, there are tonnes of bee­hive chan­de­liers,” she says. “I thought, one could re­ally go crazy with this. But then I don’t want to look like ‘crazy bee lady’. People could get the wrong idea.” In­deed. But many fur­nish­ings are more sub­tle. There are yel­low flower pots (by Scheurich), a yel­low cof­fee-maker (Gnali & Zani) and yel­low cush­ions in most rooms (mainly be­cause “yel­low makes me happy”). There are also black arm­chairs (Knoll), honeycomb prints (eBay), a bee can­dle-holder (Beefayre), a hon­ey­pot dec­o­rated with bees (by a friend of Orec­chia’s mother-in-law), and art­fully scat­tered bee books (with yel­low cov­ers). The Bee­hive has charm, char­ac­ter and a pe­cu­liar pre­ci­sion about it. From Orec­chia’s black and yel­low out­fit, which matches most of the fur­nish­ings, to the cover of a copy of Coun­try Life on the ta­ble fea­tur­ing the same breed of dog as Os­car, a Lu­cas ter­rier (the dog just hap­pens to be honey coloured), it ap­pears that dis­or­der is for the out­side world. Ev­ery room, in­clud­ing both bed­rooms and bath­rooms, is dec­o­rated in greys and beiges, al­beit with a splash of yel­low. From a cor­ner sofa to a dozen bas­kets care­fully placed on the liv­ing room shelves, the rooms are full of clean lines and clean shapes. The only per­sonal el­e­ments on dis­play are a set of pho­to­graphs in the main room. But even these have a pro­fes­sional link: they are by Emilio’s mother, who takes pic­tures for a liv­ing. They might not be of bees, but they do have an “Orec­chia feel” to them: a sense of sur­real har­mony. One is of a pig and cow on a farm in New York who liked “hang­ing out” so much, says Orec­chia, that when they were sep­a­rated, the pig “ran down the road to find the cow”. The pho­to­graphs and the fur­nish­ings work so well in the house that it is easy to imag­ine a buyer want­ing to pur­chase ev­ery­thing. “We’d con­sider it,” says Orec­chia. “It would be fun to have a fresh start.” 40 Oss­ing­ton Street, Lon­don W2 is for sale at £1,925,000 through Crayson (020 7221 1117; crayson.com)

Honey, I’m home: Sarah Orec­chia and hus­band Emilio, and the bee-themed dec­o­ra­tions in the Not­ting Hill house, in­clud­ing a bee­hive light, above, honeycomb pic­ture, right, and yel­low cof­fee maker, be­low

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