Sunday, December 17, 2017

Raw delicious honey

the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire PhotographyWanting to pollinate a plot of tomato plants, Carolina Zuniga and Spencer Lewin got their first bee colony. They quickly found that bees don’t actually pollinate tomatoes, the wind and occasionally bumblebees do that, so their tomato plants died but the bee colony thrived on other flowers in the area. So they stuck to beekeeping. That was three years ago. Their colonies grew and they quickly produced too much honey for their own consumption. In January 2014 they started selling honey to supermarkets all around the country and a few weeks ago they opened their own shop in Cabarete at the entrance to Ocean One/Harmony/Pelican.

The Honey Company
This quaint and welcoming shop sells honey and bee-related products including propolis extract, salves, lip balms, face masks and body butters, home-made mamajuana, and mead, which is a wine made from honey. They also sell of course many different varieties of local honey, which they also continue to deliver to supermarkets all around the country.  As demand has risen beyond expectations, they are now working with other local beekeepers who are committed to using more organic treatments and sustainable methods in their beekeeping.
the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photographythe honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography

“Apart from selling honey, we also wanted this place to promote healthy food options”, explains Carolina. “The yogurt and kefir we sell is home-made; the fruits we sell and use in our juices and popsicles are bought locally from trusted producers; and in nearly everything we sell, including the little food treats, there’s a little honey.”

the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photographythe honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography

Improving the lives of bees and beekeepers
Although beekeeping started out as a hobby, both Carolina and Spencer are very committed to improving the lives of bees.  With the help from a grant received from the GEF Small Grants Programme implemented by the UNDP, Carolina has been able to help set up a local association of beekeepers called the Asociacion de Apicultores de la Costa Verde, which aims at improving the conditions for bees with more and more diverse trees and plants being planted, improving the practices of beekeeping with trainings and more organic treatments of bees, and finally improving the lives of beekeepers by providing the possibility to use a common extraction and processing room.
the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography

“Bees are very resilient beings and can survive a lot of mistreatment”, underlines Carolina. “Some beekeepers in our area had been keeping their bees in a way that didn’t kill them but that wasn’t particularly beneficial for them either. Through the training program provided by the association we have been able to improve conditions dramatically which has led to an increase in honey production.”

“The UNEP also provided us with seed capital which we are saving and using to give loans to beekeepers to update their equipment”, Carolina explains. “So far 33% of the equipment of our members has been replaced and the aim is for everyone to update at least two thirds of their equipment.”

the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photographythe honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography

Why bees
Despite getting into beekeeping kind of by accident, the love for the profession is apparent in both Carolina and Spencer. “I could talk about bees all day”, Carolina confesses. “Apart from the fact that they make honey, bees are amazing insects and it’s very rewarding to work with them even though it’s hard work.”

the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photographythe honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography

The good stuff in honey
When asked what the health benefits are of honey, Carolina’s eyes light up. “They find a new benefit of honey every day, it’s amazing”, she smiles and starts listing an unending list of benefits. Benefits include improved brain function, skin and wound care, disinfectant properties as it effectively suffocates bacteria and benefits for anemic, diabetic and auto-immune patients.

 the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography

“Of course there is a huge difference between processed and raw honey”, Carolina explains. “Often ultra-filtered honey has little to no pollen, effectively rendering it without any benefit. The pollen [that is in raw honey] contains everything the body needs, and interestingly enough it can’t be reproduced in a laboratory.”

She also highlights her aunt’s experience, when talking about the benefits bees give to humans. “Osteoarthritis runs in my family and every single woman above a certain age has had to have a hip replacement at one stage or another. The latest one on that list was my aunt who is in her early 50s and a medical practitioner. Rather than injecting botox in her hip against the pain she decided she would inject bee venom instead. The result has been amazing and the foreseen operation has been postponed indefinitely for now.”

the honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photographythe honey company-photo by Sweet Fire Photography
Honey Company opening hours
Check out the Honey Company’s wide selection of raw honey products, produced on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic.
Open every day except Tuesdays from 9am to 6pm.

More information on the Honey Company

More information on the Honey Company Shop

Photos by Sweet Fire Photography – copyright 2015

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