Honeyed words of wisdom at Wheat Ridge’s bee festival

Fourth annual event extended to 2nd day

Kevin M. Smith
Posted 9/25/18

Bees saved Ray Story’s life. Story had a major stroke, rendering him unable to walk or talk and was told he would never recover. So he took up beekeeping. “It would teach me to put the suit on, …

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Honeyed words of wisdom at Wheat Ridge’s bee festival

Fourth annual event extended to 2nd day

Posted

Bees saved Ray Story’s life.

Story had a major stroke, rendering him unable to walk or talk and was told he would never recover.

So he took up beekeeping.

“It would teach me to put the suit on, but then once I learn to put the suit on I’d have to learn to zip it up — I would have to learn each stage,” Story explained. “So the bees are extremely religious to me … that’s the reason I’m here.”

That was 12 years ago.

Story, who does education and outreach for the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, was one of the speakers at the Colorado Bee Festival this past weekend.

Story can’t say enough good things about honey, but cautions that if it’s not raw and unfiltered than it’s just overrated sugar.

During his presentation Saturday at the honey festival at Four Seasons Farmers & Artisans Market in Wheat Ridge, Story said many brands of honey are pasteurized and filtered, removing all the health benefits of honey.

There was an emphasis on locally made raw and unfiltered honey during the two-day event that brought several beekeepers and local honey supporters to the festival on 38th Avenue.

“We’ve found there’s huge interest in honey and bees and beekeeping and pollinators,” said Rosiland May, program coordinator at Four Seasons Farmers and Artisans Market. “There’s a real need for education for bees and pollinators. And we just found it’s something people are really passionate about it.”

This was the third year for the festival at Four Seasons in Wheat Ridge and the first time it was a two-day event. May said adding a second day was to accommodate the growing interest as there were an estimated to be more than 1,000 people who attended last year.

May said she hopes people become more conscious about the source of their honey and how natural it is.

“It may not even be honey,” May said.

That’s something Story addressed in his presentation. He said pasteurized honey can be watered down — literally. Story demonstrated with a match. He put a light coating of raw, unfiltered honey on a match and lit it. It produced smoke.

“Don’t expect a big flame, but it lights and it won’t do that with water,” Story said.

The match won’t light with pasteurized honey because the pasteurization removes the pollen, which makes it then essentially “sugar water.”

When the pollen remains in the honey, it has several benefits. Honey, Story said, is a natural anti-inflammatory.

“If you have allergies, you’re all congested, it reduces the inflammation,” Story said.

He said natural honey also contains amino acids, minerals, enzymes and nutrients from the plants.

While there were several vendors selling their honey at the event, there were several vendors related to honey production, like PaleoResearch Institute in Golden. R.A. Varney said a honey analysis can test the purity — like if there’s added corn syrup — for consumers or tell producers the source. He said a client once sent them honey tha tasted bitter and PaleoResearch determined the pollen was coming from eucalyptus.

Jeff Curry had a booth at the event to sell his honey. He’s been a beekeeper for about five years and was selling honey before that, which is what got him interested in beekeeping. He had several flavors of honey for several, each flavor depended on what the bees were pollinating, he said.

Story said those interested in beekeeping should do research and join a local bee club because most beekeepers stop doing it within two years because the bees die.

Vesselin Dotkov, of Denver, said he was a member of a local bee club for a year before beekeeping. He’s in this third year of beekeeping and was at the festival.

He sells honey primarily out of this home. Dotkov said there’s a big learning curve the first few years as he had to learn how they react to each season and make sure they have enough pollination.  

“It’s not a part-time job, it’s ongoing,” Dotkov said of the hobby.

Lauren Adams, of Westminster, was among the attendees on Saturday.

“I’m obsessed with honey,” she said.

Adams grew up in Indiana where her grandparents had beehives. She said she’d like to have a beehive of her own some day.

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