My Minnesota: She's got a honey of a business

  • Updated: March 2, 2013 - 5:14 PM

Kristy Allen bikes around in a bee suit.

C’mon, you say, narrow it down a little. OK, she’s the one who’s delivering honey — fresh, locally made bee-ichor.

Kristy and Erin Rupp run BeezKneez, a local business that spreads the sweet stuff around.

How did she end up in honeybee attire?

“I painted my bike like a bee,” Kristy says, “because it needed a paint job. Well, my uncle has a thousand hives at his farm and asked, ‘how would you feel about selling honey?’ I thought, ‘what if I dressed like a bee on Halloween and handed out samples?’ ”

Ta-da. A business was born, and she’s logged 2,150 miles on the bee bike in the last year alone.

But BeezKneez also helps people explore beekeeping on their own: “Revive the Hive!” is their slogan. Are there really bee hobbyists?

“It’s been growing for the last five years,” she says. “It’s an art and science and farming all in one. There’s a little subculture that always been around, but there’s a new wave. The U of M does a crash course in beekeeping, and 300 people signed up this year.”

Many people would take a course in how to avoid being around bees, of course. Dumb question: Ever been stung?

“Yeah. But not a lot. It’s usually my fault. You sort of get used to it.”

While the idea of “getting used to bee stings” is not high on many people’s to-do lists, you’d be surprised how many people find their inner beekeeper once they explore the hobby.

“When people come in the hives with us, you can see the initial fear; then they overcome it — they don’t take off mask and kiss a bee, but that psychological process of facing the fear kicks in. The minute I went into a beehive, I knew right away I wanted to do this. Everyone has a different story.”

And they don’t all end with YEEEEOOWCH! In fact, they might end with yum: Honey enthusiasts say that each locality has its trademark flavor. Honeys are as distinctive as fine French wines. But is there a Minnesota flavor?

“Absolutely. It’s basswood. The bees really love it, and it produces a sort of minty flavor.”

And they’re doing it right now, as we speak. If you’re interested in unique regional honey, or want to raise bees, or just want to explore the honey underground, thebeezkneezdelivery.com will get you started.

 

JAMES LILEKS

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