Beekeeper shares benefit of honeybees
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Apr 28, 2013 | 338 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KIWANIS PRESIDENT Chris Newton holds flowers in honor of guest speaker Diane Ravens’ profession as a beekeeper at a recent luncheon. From left, Bruce Bradford, April program chair, Ravens and Newton.  Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
KIWANIS PRESIDENT Chris Newton holds flowers in honor of guest speaker Diane Ravens’ profession as a beekeeper at a recent luncheon. From left, Bruce Bradford, April program chair, Ravens and Newton. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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Appalachian Bee Farm’s Diane Ravens recently gave members of the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland an inside look into the life of a beekeeper and the honeybees she watches over.

“It’s always nice to have a captive audience, because I could talk about bees for hours,” Ravens said. “I’m hoping maybe you will come away with some information. That is very important.”

Ravens continued, adding that bees are “very misunderstood.”

“They provide a lot of things people don’t realize,” she said. “It is important to first of all educate children about honeybees. So pass it on.” 

Ravens spoke about the inside of a bee hive, the benefits of honeybees, pollinating and apitherapy, or the medicinal use of bee products.

She also dispelled concerns about the bee stings, adding that understanding why bees sting can help people learn to be less afraid of them.

“Honeybees do not want to sting you, but they are protecting their colony if you do something to threaten them,” Ravens said. “Just like if someone came in to your home — you would do something about it. Honeybees know they are going to die if they sting you, so, unless they are really threatened, they will leave you alone.”

Ravens said she does not wear a bee suit while working in her hive. She wears one while working with other beekeepers’ hives but not her own.

“On a 90 degree day, it is 120 [degrees] in that suit, and many days I don’t get stung,” Ravens said. “Many days I do get stung. A bad day is 20 stings or more.”

Unlike most people who suffer from seasonal allergies, Ravens likes pollen. This means a honey flow will most likely occur.

Ravens said there are three types of bees in the hive. They are the queen bee, the worker bees and the drone bees. She said the sole purpose of the drone bees is to mate with the queen bee. Their enlarged eyes make it possible for them to spot a queen bee in the air.

Colonies should have no more than 5 percent drone bees. These bees have no other purpose than to mate and eat. On the other hand, worker bees gather pollen and nectar, bring in water, build the hive and protect the colony.

Ravens said bee stings, pollen, wax and propolis can be beneficial for consumers.

“Propolis is my specialty. It’s said propolis is the most natural antibiotic man has ever discovered,” she said. “The most remarkable thing about this statement is the discovery took place some 2,000 years ago.”

She said propolis was given its name by Socrates, a Greek philosopher and “father of modern medicine.”

“It’s a resin from plants and trees the honey bee gathers and enriches with her enyzmes and beeswax,” Ravens said. “The bee lines the colony with propolis and the cells where the queen lays. It keeps it basically as a hospital-clean environment.”

“If you had 2,000 people in this room, bacteria would grow rampant. You’ve got 50 or 60 or 80,000 bees in a colony, and bacteria would grow rampant. Propolis keeps the hive sterile so these bees can continue to live and grow in the colonies.”

Ravens provided samples of her soap to Kiwanis members.

More information can be found at honeybeesrock.com.