Have you ever seen a bee and were thankful for the honey it makes? If you are like most people, you likely think of bees as little more than a nuisance, an unwanted visitor to your backyard barbecue or day at the park. In reality, bees are amazing creatures that produce the delicious honey so many of us enjoy. Does that mean you need to have a hive vibrating in your backyard? Of course not. That’s what people like Paul Luthi are for.For the past 35 years, Paul has been the owner and primary beekeeper at Three Bears Honey in Moorhead. He now works with his son, Travis, continuing the family tradition that started with his grandfather, who was also a beekeeper. Paul fell in love with the profession while watching his grandfather and spending time with a commercial beekeeper. “I was very intrigued with bees and beekeeping and followed my dream,” he said.
Paul understands that society has many misconceptions about bees. “Some people think bees are aggressive and looking for people to sting — they aren’t! They defend their home and their queen, of course, but bees are naturally easy to be around,” he explained. “Bees are actually fascinating insects.”
Three Bears Honey produces pure, unfiltered honey from basswood flower, sweet clover, and wildflower. Although the company is located on the north edge of Moorhead, they have beehives all over the Red River Valley.
According to Paul, the Minnesota average for the amount of honey produced per hive is about 80 pounds. The bees are not producing like they used to, however, due to a variety of reasons. Paul sees deadly mites, difficulties finding good areas to forage for pollen, and the use of chemicals as the biggest threat to bees. Poor weather can also negatively factor into honey production.
For Paul, the opportunity to work outdoors with a species he is captivated by is the perfect profession. “I enjoy working out in nature with the fresh air and birds, and I love producing a product that people enjoy,” he said. “There is so much to learn about bees. I am always finding out something new about how they communicate, function, and work together to thrive.”
Paul thanks the community for their support. “We appreciate our customers and we work hard to produce quality honey,” he said. “We put a lot of care into what we do and the honey we produce.”
More information, including honey-based recipes, can be found at threebearshoney.com.
Interesting Facts about Honey Bees:
- According to the National Honey Board, there are at least 300 varieties of honey in the US.
- Honey is the only insect-created food with therapeutic, medicinal, and cosmetic value.
- A bee colony consists of one queen, several hundred male drones, and more than 30,000 female workers.
- The queen is the largest bee in the hive. She can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day!
- On average, a worker bee will make 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. About 500 honeybees work to make one pound of honey.
- Bees must visit approximately two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
- Honey bees fly at 15 miles per hour. Their wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, which makes their distinctive buzzing sound.
By Jamee Larson