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Local Bee Rescue Offers All-Natural Beeswax Products, Honey and a Buzz Worth Spreading

“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.” – Saint John Chrysostom

Written by: Jodilyn Ottobre

With the rapid decline of bees over the last few years, we have come to realize how invaluable they are to our planet. They not only provide us with golden nectar to sweeten our food and drink, they pollinate over 30 percent of the crops needed for the survival of the world’s food supply. Having this in mind, it may surprise you that many people look to exterminators to remove an unexpected hive from their backyard. Why exterminate these vital pollinators when you could rescue them? That’s what Backyard Bees founder Janet Andrews was thinking when she encountered a bee problem in her home nearly 10 years ago. She found that although there were more than enough exterminators in the area, she couldn’t find a local bee removal to safely transfer the hive to a more optimal area. Motivated to start her own eco-business, Janet and co-founder Kelly Yrarrázaval formed Backyard Bees, a hive rescue and relocation service that uses sustainable beekeeping practices to make their own line of natural and pesticide-free honey and skin care products. After 10 years in the business, Backyard Bees has rescued over 100 hives and relocated them to over 50 locations within Orange County, all while continuing to monitor and collect honey from each hive. From Laguna Beach to Palos Verdes, Backyard Bees is saving and spreading the buzz around the county and it is oh-so sweet.

Photo by: Ralph Palumbo

Photo by: Ralph Palumbo

Here’s how it works: after Backyard Bees safely removes an unwanted hive or swarm from your home, they find a hive host that can offer a secluded area to encourage the honeybees to increase their hive. The Backyard Bees team will then go out on a regular basis to each hive to collect honey and beeswax to make their own treatment-free honey, hand and body cream, lip dew and balm. You may be asking yourself, so what’s all this buzz about treatment-free honey and beeswax products anyway? The bees do all the work; all you have to do is jar the honey and put it on the shelves, right? Well, while many people believe that all honey is created equal, it is far from it. After sitting down with queen bees Janet and Kelly, I learned that over 75 percent of honey sold by commercial retailers filter and remove the natural pollen found in honey to achieve a clearer product. Many honey brands also pasteurize their honey by heating it to least 145 degrees to prevent crystallization so the honey does not solidify. Raw unfiltered honey contains powerful antioxidants, vitamins, enzymes, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. When the honey is pasteurized, all these beneficial properties are killed off and destroyed. Why consume honey if you can’t reap all of the wonderful benefits of its medicinal properties? Next time you think about buying a jar of honey from your local grocer, consider all that may have been stripped—or added during its processing. 

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Another unknown fact about commercial bee products is that the majority of beeswax in this country is contaminated because large-scale beekeepers treat their bees. The law does not prohibit the use of chemicals inside the hive, so commercial beekeepers spray antibiotics and pesticides to keep their bees from getting mites and diseases. Beeswax is naturally porous, leaving all the harmful chemicals that are used to be absorbed into the wax. This contaminated beeswax can be used for lip balm and other skin care products that are then absorbed into your body. Untreated beeswax contains more natural skin healing benefits, has anti-inflammatory properties and protects against airborne allergies.

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Luckily for us, Backyard Bees honey and skin care products are unfiltered and treatment-free. They work with nature to preserve a mutually beneficial relationship and believe in keeping the process as natural as possible by avoiding the use of any harmful beekeeping alternatives. Needless to say, this eco-friendly process is better for the consumer, the bees and our environment. Go ahead and slather on those beeswax products and feel good about it.

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Backyard Bees is not only a beneficial service to the environment, it is also an educational resource that is not typically found in urban areas. Aside from their daily job of saving our busy little friends, harvesting honey and making beeswax products, Backyard Bees also offers beekeeping tours, classes and workshops to the community. Orange County residents can learn about honeybees and discover all that goes on inside the hive, understand why bees are essential in agriculture and learn how to make their own natural beeswax products. Take advantage of what Backyard Bees has to offer and find their honey at your local Whole Foods, Hanson’s and Mother’s Markets. Backyard Bees honey and skin care can be ordered through their website at www.backyardbees.net. Help keep the local buzz alive!

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How can you help save the bees?

-Don’t spray harmful pesticides. Use organic pesticides or make your own using natural ingredients

-Grow bee-friendly flowering plants such as rosemary, foxglove, borage, or lavender

-Educate yourself on commercial beekeeping practices and support local beekeepers

-Be a hive host! If you own an acre or more of land you could host a hive and receive some sweet perks in exchange

Honey Pie (Courtesy of Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn)

The crust:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tbsp. (or more) ice water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Add butter using on-off turns until mix resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water and combine. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 20 minutes. Roll out into 13 inch diameter circle and transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Trim the excess and crimp as desired. Freeze for 10 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Remove crust from freezer and line the bottom with foil. Add beans or pie weights to shell and bake for 15 minutes, until sides are set. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare your custard filling.

The filling:

1/2 cup butter melted
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. white cornmeal
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup Backyard Bees raw honey
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1 or 2 tbsp. flake sea salt for finishing

Combine melted butter, sugar, salt and cornmeal to make a thick paste. Add the honey, vanilla and vinegar and mix. Fold in the eggs, add the cream and continue to blend. Pour the filling into a pre-baked pie shell and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. The filling will puff up like a marshmallow and the center will be just slightly wobbly. Once cooled (at least one hour), finish with a sprinkling of flake sea salt. Slice and serve with freshly whipped cream.

 
Backyard Bees and Honey
800.476.6105
www.backyardbees.net
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