Updated: May 2
Why did the bee go to the dermatologist?
It had hives.
Ok moving on....
Everyone has heard at one point or another that eating local raw honey is good for you, but the details for why or how are a bit hazy! I’ve been learning about Local Beekeeping Hero, Tim Collins, 20+ year resident of Cle Elum and his delicious raw honey. I did some homework on the subject as well as sampling the honey – you know.... for research... Well here’s a cut down summary of why local raw honey is great for you, before I dive into my interview with the man himself!
Ok one more.
What do bees like with their sushi?
HEATH BENEFITS OF RAW HONEY:
1. Many of the health benefits of honey are lost when it is filtered and heated to high temperatures – raw honey doesn’t go through this process so all the goodness is still there!
2. Local, raw honey has unique flavors that are lost when industrialized.
3. To help with allergies, you need to have local, raw honey. This will insure that the honey has the allergens native to the area you live in.
4. Buying local is better not just because it reduces pollution and saves resources, but because Bees shipped from elsewhere pollinating one crop is how commercial honey is made. This is completely unnatural and hard on bees. Let’s keep the bees home and pollinating as nature intended.
5. Local, raw honey is full of all kinds of healthy ingredients. Industrial methods dilute the good stuff out.
6. Local, raw honey helps tame the stomach flu. Because raw honey calms the inflammation of the stomach, it is a great pain reliever for the stomach flu.
7. Local, raw honey has antimicrobial properties. That’s what makes it great for treating wounds. Because many types of bacteria can’t survive in honey, it speeds up healing, diminishes swelling, and gives tissue the opportunity to grow back more quickly.
INTERVIEW WITH THE MAN BEE-HIND THE SCENES - TIM COLLINS
Question one: how often do you get stung?
I rarely get stung. Our honeybees are not at all aggressive if you open the hives in good weather, and watch where you put your hands; the chances of getting stung are remote. I do try and remember to wear a hat with a veil. I do not wear gloves but if you watch where you place your hands and don't squeeze a bee, you will not get stung. However, if one does get stung in the hand, it is generally less irritating than a mosquito bite to most people. There are people though that are allergic to bee stings and they can be quite serious and even cause death.
Question two: what species of honeybee do you have?
I don't really know. They are the Italian or Mediterranean type. We got our original bees from Ellensburg Bee Company near Thorp and his queens have been meeting with whatever guys they meet in the neighborhood. I'm pretty sure in an environment where there are a number of different beekeepers; they are all pretty much interbred. I believe the first Bees introduced into the US were the black German Bee, which still exists in the wild. I don't believe they are kept in many bee yards anymore because of their somewhat nasty disposition. In a queens mating flight she remains in the air while trying to hook up with several drones. She does not have time to check the pedigrees.
Question three: what is your favorite thing to put honey on?
I suppose freshly baked bread. But it is good on so many things including ice cream. It does not mix well in cold water, however. For that, I use agave nectar.
Question four: can you explain the process of making honey?
As I understand it, each little forager bee goes out and collects nectar from a specific kind of flower. She brings it back to the hive and regurgitates it into an indoor bee. That bee processes the nectar and places it in a cell to be stored. The nectar stays in the cell and dehydrates to the right moisture content and is sealed with a wax cap. It is then ready to be consumed by the bees during the winter. If there is excess honey, the beekeeper can remove some frames, cut off the caps, and spin the honey out in a centrifuge. From there it is strained to get rid of the wax particles and put into jars for human consumption.
Question five: when did you start beekeeping?
I believe this is our fifth year trying to keep bees. We have only had them live through the winter a couple of times.
Question six: How many hives do you have now versus how many you started with?
We started with one hive and have had as many as nine. We had several hives die out this past winter and are down to one again, which is very disheartening. This is not an easy climate to keep bees. I plan to split our existing hive into at least two this summer. A person should always start with at least two. If something goes amiss in one hive, it can be shored up with stores from the other. We won't have much honey to sell next season but Secret Valley Produce has excellent local honey and has a website.
Question seven: what enticed you to start beekeeping?
I suppose it was all the talk about how the honeybee is in trouble and how important it is to the food chain. Once people get into it, they realize what fascinating little creatures they are. Getting the honey is a nice benefit and can somewhat defray the cost of the hobby but it is not primary to us. Another attraction was that I like to build things and beehives looked fun!
Question eight: How long have you lived in Cle Elum/ Peoh Point area and what is your favorite thing about living here?
We have lived on Peoh Point Rd for over 20 years now and really enjoy it here in the summertime. There are a lot of great people here year round and especially in the summer. However, we are starting to seriously consider spending at least part of the winter in Mexico.
Where can you find Tim’s delicious honey?
Well he recently sold some of his delicious Wild Flower Honey to Gemini Jim at; you guessed it – Gemini Fish Market on 1st street! So you can head down there to get your hands on this delicious honey!
Photo credit: Kelly Martin - Tim's amazing wife
A final note:
What do you call a bee that lives in America?
New stories each month! If you have a story worth sharing, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get an interview set up!
Thanks for reading!
Stay beautiful Cle Elum!