Beekeeping and Honey
Interview with Dr. Stace Lind 2/22/12
Chef Trusan: How long have you been bee keeping?
Dr. Lind: I’ve been bee keeping for about 5 years. It’s been enjoyable.
Chef Trusan: What sparked your interest in it?
Dr. Lind: All my allergies. I had tons of allergies. I was taking Seldane, I was taking shots, taking all these meds, antihistamines. My eyes would be itchy, my nose would run, the back of my throat would get scratchy, I’d cough and I got tired of taking meds. Someone told me about pollen and how the bees when they collected everything from all the flowers, all the things that make my nose run, and they collect it in a little ball and I eat it, my body builds up antibodies within my immune system to those markers, so all of a sudden it increases my resistance and helps my tolerance. I haven’t taken allergy meds in probably five years.
Chef Trusan: Great, I didn’t realize how that worked.
Dr. Lind: It's pretty amazing when you look at it. It’s nature’s best way to build up antibodies for immunity against all the pollens in the air by letting your digestive track bring those in and to build an immunity to them. It takes about nine to fourteen days so you have to start before the season. If you try to hurry and eat some pollen the day your eyes are itchy and your nose is runny, then it’s a little bit late to build up your system.
Chef Trusan: What are some interesting facts about bees that no one would know to think of?
Dr. Lind: Well...over 90% of all nuts and berries are pollinated by bees and their families, so to speak, by wasps and other flying insects, but most of its done by the bee. There are only a few crops that don’t need the bees and those are wind borne pollination crops like corn and so forth.
Bumblebees technically shouldn’t fly. Aeronautically they are not designed for it but do very well at it.
Bees keep the hive somewhere between 72 and 76 degrees all year round. They move their wing muscles to create heat and together they form a ball so they rotate around in this ball similar to penguins to stay warm during the winter.
Males mate once and the drones when they mate their penis break off inside the Queen bee and after she's full with enough of them she can never mate again they remain in her and the males just drop down and die. She has enough sperm from the drones that she can produce 20,000 to 22,000 eggs a day during the high season. At the beginning of the first cold all the drones are thrown outside and aren’t allowed back inside and they die. The females do all the work, the males are just there for the mating and the males, the drones, do not have any stingers. The Queen bee can sting as many times a she wants, the other females within the hive have barbs so when they sting, the barb comes out and they lose their abdomen and die. The females don’t want the males around all winter eating the honey and just relaxing and watching TV, so once they’re done with the mating they throw them outside and they’re gone. I’ll get some new males for next year. Every divorced man understands that story!
Chef Trusan: What are some misconceptions about bees?
Dr Lind: There's a lot of misconceptions particularly with the African bees. Bees are not aggressive and particularly don’t want to sting, they don’t want to die. They are very sensitive to pheromones and they sense fear. It’s amazing, if someone has fear, the more likely they are to get stung then if they don’t have fear. Hives where I am a little bit nervous I have issues with the guard bees trying to come after me. Other hives when I approach very confidently don’t even need the clothing, the bees don’t sting, they are very friendly and docile. They are very good at sensing things. Misconceptions...African Killer Bees, the way the killer bees have created problems is their protective zone goes further. Most bees are no different than us. If someone walk in our house unannounced and uninvited we would get very upset and angry and people buy guns to protect themselves for such reasons. The African bee isn’t the person that’s just guarding their house. Normally bees don’t care what’s going on if someone walks by on the street in front of you, no big deal as long as they don’t enter your doors. The African bee because of his situation in Africa and these large animals that would just crush their hives and tear down a tree that has their hive in it and push it over otherwise. Over thousands of years they need to be proactive in defense of their home instead of reactive. So if someone’s walking down the street in front of your house and you don’t know who it is, you’re going to run outside run them away. And that’s what the African bee does. So they have a zone of about 25 to 50 feet that they don’t like just a stranger coming by. They will be here in the future years but they are not in Colorado yet. A lot of times bees and wasps are confused. Bees are usually a family and tight knit organization and wasps and hornets and bumble bees are not, they don’t produce anything for anyone else.
Chef Trusan: So there is a difference between honey bees and bumble bees?
Bumblebees basically hibernate, they just burrow into the ground and they have their young and only the Queen survive the winter and they have their young each spring.
Bees only live only about 28 days during the high season, because they die by wearing out their wings from over working. They work themselves to death. But the ones that make it to September / October will live all the way through the winter. Some will die occasionally, but they have a much longer life span if they are born late in the season. If they are born early in the season and they go from once they are born and the brood begins to grow, they go through four different positions. They go first to taking care of the Queen and then being a worker within the hive and then they go to being a guard at the front door and then they go to being a (out of the hive) worker and there are three different types of workers and they differentiate, we don’t know how they do it. One group collects water for the hive, the other group collects pollen and the other collect nectar. The combination of those three is what produces honey and then they fan their wings on top of the honey inside these cells and once it gets down to 18% water content, they hurry and put a wax cap on the top of it.
Chef Trusan: How do they figure it out?
Dr. Lind: They just do it.
Chef Trusan: Is a colony the same thing as a hive?
Dr. Lind: It would technically be the same thing. They don’t associate with other hives. They only have one Queen. Typically if there is more than one Queen they duke it out till there is only one.. So they don’t tolerate that very well.
Chef Trusan: How much honey can a hive make? (how many bees does it take to make a cup of honey?)
Dr. Lind: It's interesting, I had one hive last year that produced 120 pounds of honey. On average they will produce about 14 pounds per frame within the hive and typically there are 9 or 10 frames in each box. I usually leave 2 full boxes for them to get through the winter, so I don’t take all their honey, I leave most of it for them. I just take what I need. It creates a symbiotic relationship. It seems to work out best.
Chef Trusan: How many bees make up a hive or colony?
Dr. Lind: The average in a hive during the high point in the season in mid summer is about 80,000 bees.
Chef Trusan: How many different kinds of honey do you harvest?
Dr. Lind: Yes, harvest is the proper term. I use a centrifuge and something that cuts off the wax caps on the outside surface and I spin the honey and the frame in a centrifuge and it spins all the honey against the walls and it drops down and I collect it in buckets. There are different types of honey based on the types of flower and the food. In areas like Highlands Ranch and so forth, they get many, many flowers and varieties, it’s a nice blend. If you go down to Sedalia, you get more clover honey. Same thing if you go up to Red Rocks. It just depends on the area what the bees can feed from. You can flavor the honey if you get them in areas that has flavorful flowers mostly of one type like mint or whatever. I have a hive over in Greenwood Village and this hive loves all the mint plants that are everywhere so all the honey has a mint flavor and it’s very light that is a perfect compliment for teas and desserts.
Chef Trusan: What is the difference between store-bought honey and honey that is hand harvested?
Dr. Lind: The store bought honey is very scary. Particularly within the last few years. Actually some of it is so tainted that Sue Bee and the Federal Government had to dump 40 million dollars worth of honey that had come over from China laced with all sorts of heavy metals and elements that you don’t want in your honey. So I do not eat store bought honey. Store bought honey is what I call “Bee Syrup”. It’s not honey, its the sugars left over from all the good stuff, the pollen, the nectars and other things. When they boil or treat the honey in the way they mix it with corn syrup. They’re actually using corn syrup in about everything. And even though it says 100% honey, it is one hundred percent honey but it’s amazing how many people are getting away with saying its pure honey and they’re adding corn syrups or their boiling it or taking out the pollens or worried about any issues that people have, so it just like taking maple syrup out of the maple tree and having it processed and refined three or four times and just basically having sugar that tastes like maple. There’s a big difference. Once you try natural honey vs. store bought honey it’s hard to go back.
Chef Trusan: I can attest to that!
Dr. Lind: I have a lot of patients I've given honey to and their kids won’t even eat the store bought honey anymore. The kids know the difference and you don’t have to prove anything to them.
Chef Trusan: Other than the allergies that you mentioned, are there any other benefits of raw / local honey?
Dr. Lind: Pollen is a big issue from an allergy standpoint. The propolis* from the hive is huge in health care, they find that when they put it with cancer cells it stops cancer cells from growing. You’ll find health food stores that sell propolis in bottles. Mostly the Chinese like to buy it over in Chinatown. They grind up the propolis and use it in different medicinal Chinese remedies. But propolis is probably the most healthiest thing or the most medically based product. It keeps the hive incredibly clean and sterile inside due to the propolis.
Wax is wax, but (bee hive) wax burns nice and clean, it doesn’t have any petroleum products in it like other wax products do.
The honey has nectar and pollen, is good and then you have the royal jelly which is the food for the Queen and it has a lot of health benefits with it. A lot of the weight lifters and so forth eat a lot of royal jelly. Natural pollen in the hive has the highest amount of protein in nature so a lot of people will just eat the pollen with yogurt or what have you. So there is a lot of healthy products from the hive.
And some people with arthritis like to get stung by the bees on purpose because it helps with arthritis. Something with the bee venom actually is curative for many people’s ills for painful cramped fingers. There are people that come in and we’ll put some bees in a bottle or a container and they’ll put their hand in there and get the female (bees) to sting them and they get a lot of relief. A gentleman that’s been suffering from terrible arthritis (he couldn’t bee keep anymore) but he asked if he could come over and get stung occasionally. It helps his hands for months then he comes over and gets stung again. And so there’s many aspects of the bee as far as we don’t like that seem to help people.
Chef Trusan: What is your favorite food made with honey? Do you have a favorite dish?
Dr. Lind: I do and we’ve talked about that. I like to put honey with my sauces and put it over my meats and fishes because it crystallizes under the heat and holds that flavor, locks in the flavor around the meet or food. If I have pork chops, I can have a mango habinaro that’s a sweet hot sauce and I put a little bit of honey in it and that locks in a nice light flavor around a pork chop. Sometimes I’ll take, even with just with some BBQ sauce or other spices that you want to use for a rub and on your chicken, etc. and you add a little honey in the cooker and particularly in the grill it locks everything in. Seafood, I’ll take lemon and dill mixed with honey and put it on my white fish with some fresh dill garnish will lock in the flavor and make it nice for presentation. And the salmon, I love to use the ginger teriyaki (fresh ginger a little teriyaki sauce, some honey) and lightly coat it on the salmon a couple of times and with the honey it puts a nice glaze on the fish.
Chef Trusan: I've tried your salmon on the grill recipe. It’s really nice and is now one of the mainstay salmon recipes that I use.
Chef Trusan: One last question, is there anything about bee keeping or honey in general you'd like to talk about?
Dr. Lind: I think we need to use more of the natural products in our cooking and our presentation and for our health. Colorado lost about 60% of its bee population in the last 5 years. So, if anyone that would like to get into bee keeping and bring bees into their area and collect the pollens that are local to them, let’s get some more bees and more honey and more things going for the health of our communities, ourselves, our food and everything else and beautifying our land. We read in every holy literature as well as any text of wisdom a land flowing with milk and honey is a prosperous land. It can’t flow in honey without the bees.
Whenever you have famine or dearth or no flowering or pollination, for example, there were about twenty trees over here in Greenwood Village that they were going to cut down that haven’t fruited for (according to the gardener who’s been there for the whole time) about twenty years. I put a bee hive down and every one of were so heavy with pears, they were trying to support the branches and they didn’t know what to do. They’ve never seen so much fruit. So we had a whole row of pear trees that they were going to chop down, now incredibly prosperous trees and it changed the land by introducing the bees and we have wonderful honey! It’s all good!
If you are interested in bee keeping, Dr. Lind would be happy to help you set up your hive and teach them the fundamentals of bee keeping. Dr. Lind can be reached at:
Heritage Dental: 303-770-9901
* (Propolis - the resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flowers, etc. and is used for a sealant for unwanted small gaps in the hive)
Famous bee keepers: