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TALK THAT SWEET TALK: RYAN LEBRUN ON HONEY AND BEES

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Bees are critical to the health of our global food system. They pollinate berries, avocados, almonds, and more, helping to diversify and strengthen our diets and ecosystems. To show our tiny friends some extra love, we sat down with our Head of Operations and Head Beekeeper Ryan LeBrun and nerded out on all things bees and honey.


1. How many queens live in a hive?
Just one.

2. How many bees live in a hive?
Depending on the season there can be up to 35,000 bees during high summer all the way down to 5,000 in the winter.

3. How long do bees live?
The average worker bee lives for about 40 days, but a queen can live up to five years.

4. Why does your honey vary in color?
It all depends on what plants and flowers the bees pollinate. We have hives throughout Oregon and some in Portland, so the color reflects the natural landscape of the bees’ habitat. Buckwheat will produce a darker, deep-bodied honey, whereas clover and alfalfa produce a lighter, sweeter variety.

5. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned working with bees?
Their eusocial behavior and instincts. Each bee performs certain tasks based on his or her role within the hive and reproductive ability. There are so many intricacies about their everyday lives that blow my mind. I’m also surprised how scared people are of them. Bees are really peaceful and die right after they sting, so they only do it if they feel threatened.

6. What's up with the 3/8 on the logo?
That's called the bee space, or the optimal distance between structures for bees to enter the hive and move comfortably (3/8-inch). For humans, it makes for easy removal, inspection, and manipulation of hive boxes. For bees, it's the magic number for a thriving hive life. Too much space, and bees will crowd the hive; too little, and they can't move between structures. If that's the case, they'll fill those gaps with propolis (a resin-like substance bees make to fill cracks in the hive).  

7. So, why should people choose Bee Local?
Our honey is screened (filtered just enough to get the chunks of honeycomb out) and never heated, so we keep all the valuable nutrients and enzymes intact—it’s almost like eating straight from the hive. Bee Local is unique because you know what region it comes from instead of getting a mix from around the world; you can actually taste the terroir of the apiary, the region, and even the season during which the honey was harvested, something that’s very important for food. The more local you can find it the better!

And there you have it! We could talk about this stuff all day, but we think you'll have more fun at the Beekeeping Q+A and Honey Tasting, Thursday 6PM at Providore Fine Foods.  

P.S. Know what goes perfectly with honey? Salt! Try our Pure Flake Salt or Pure Kosher Salt for a salty-sweet treat on toast, ice cream, in marinades or cocktails, or anything that makes your mouth water.

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