When it’s dark, use honey. When taking a bath, use honey. When treating a wound, use honey. When brushing your teeth, use honey!
It may seem a shock for some, but honey and other bee products have a lot more use than what they are traditionally credited for. Gone are the days when honey was only considered as a food sweetener.
With honey harvesting season coming up, the Herald reached out to local beekeeper Gavin Walter of the Coquihalla Apiaries to learn all about the diverse uses of bee products and how they can be considered as an everyday essentials.
How useful is honey as a product?
Honey is a very useful product. Aside from ‘beeing’ the best natural sweetener in existence, honey is also used as a antibacterial agent, anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Historically, its uses in medicine have been significant, and if I ever burn myself, I put some honey on it immediately.
I once heard that you can survive indefinitely on a diet of honey and milk. I have not tested that out to see if it’s true and don’t know if I would recommend it unless in an emergency.
One thing people may not know about honey is that it actually contains a lot of pollen and the pollen probably accounts for some of the colour variation we see at different times of year, as the pollen colour changes from flower to flower. Another interesting statistic that many people may have heard before is that the average worker bee will only make around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. That means that it would take around 1100 bees to make a 1kg jar of honey and in a large commercial beekeeping operation producing hundreds of barrels of honey would require billions and billions of bees.
Can you speak on the diversity of the products that come out of beekeeping?
Personally, we have expanded our product line to include cold pressed soap, wax food wraps (a more sustainable substitute for plastic wrap), propolis salve and a variety of candles. However, we have seen many different products from other companies ranging from mead and honeycomb for charcuterie boards to propolis toothpaste and throat lozenges.
How big is your operation in terms of hives?
We had a bit over 200 bee hives and around 100 Nucleus Colonies (mini hives) before winter, hopefully there are some left this spring.
How many products can you have out of that?
It really depends on the weather. I guess an average year in our area might be around 100-120 lbs. per hive. We might collect around 140 lbs. of beeswax.
What is the feedback that you get from your customer base when it comes to the creative products that come out of the business?
People love seeing the creative products we have to offer. They appreciate the all natural locally produced alternatives they find. Specifically in our soaps and birthday candles. Both of which have significantly less chemical compounds in them than the store bought alternative.
People also enjoy the fact that we do honey refills. Refilling buckets helps to reduce waste entering our landfills. You can find our products at the Nicola Valley Art Gallery shop, our honey at Black’s Pharmacy, or contact us directly at email@example.com.