Do you know anyone who writes about honey in her personal journal? Looking over postings I have entered, I find numerous declarations of my affection for honey. I have been trying different local honey brands lately and have found a brand that has a flavor that I know I could identify in a blind taste test. It is by far the best tasting honey that I have ever eaten and I have only found it in one place. This nectar of the gods is contained in a mason jar with a simple black and white label that reads “Pure Honey Produced by Herman Arvada, Colorado 80002.” I’ve bought it a few times at Edwards Meat Market at 44th and Ward Road in Wheat Ridge.
I was in Edwards, just milling around looking at their specialty foods when my eye fell upon Herman’s honey. I added it to my order and returned home happily anticipating a big spoonful of this “beeliscious” bounty that I had just discovered. Now, after having enjoyed three jars of this honey, I knew I had to meet Herman. I called him up, told him how much I love his honey, he invited me over and we chatted about a subject near and dear to us both.
Herman learned about bees at an early age. Both his father and uncle were beekeepers and in the 1950s in his neighborhood around 1st and Logan, Herman took his first (of many!) swarm, dropped it in a hive and put the hive on the roof of his garage. That was the beginning of the long relationship that Herman maintains with the bees.
I asked him how many times over the years he had been stung and he laughed. He told me, “ I have been stung four and five times in one day, but I have the magic cure for bee stings and I learned it from a beekeeping book printed in German in the 1800s.” That magic cure for bee stings is lamp oil, or kerosene, and Herman has used it many times over the years on himself and other people who have been stung by bees.
Herman once helped a young child who had been stung multiple times. He was driving by in his truck when he saw a disturbance. He jumped out of his truck to help and when he learned what had happened he went with the parents and the screaming youngster into the house and applied kerosene to the child’s stings. The parents couldn’t believe it when their little one stopped crying. When he arrived, the stunned physician said he had never seen anyone stung so many times without pain and swelling.
One day many years ago while shopping for bee supplies, Herman met a man who would become a very important person in his life. The man, Rudolph, a retired state bee inspector from Minnesota, took Herman under his wing, showed him the mistakes he had been making, and taught him everything he knew about bees.
I asked Herman if after 50 years in the bee biz, there was anything that still surprised him. He told me, “I have read, and continue to read about bees and beekeeping every day. But I believe it is important to be a lifelong learner.” He showed me a booklet that he declares the most valuable book that he has ever found on beekeeping. It is unbound and in pieces because so many local libraries and bee enthusiasts want copies of it. This booklet was produced and sold by Montgomery Ward back in 1924.
Herman has a son, Wayne, who kept bees and produced honey and used the money he made to help put him through college. Wayne is now a Senior Entomologist in Washington for the US Department of Agriculture who is studying Colony Collapse Disorder and has been published on the subject. Herman also keeps close ties with apiarists at CSU in Fort Collins studying bees and their decline.
There is a stack of bee industry magazines and catalogues beside Herman’s reading chair in his living room. And as worried as I am about the future of the bees on our planet, it is comforting to know that people like Herman are here raising, studying and looking out for them.
You can buy Herman’s honey at Edwards Meats in Wheat Ridge and at the Golden Grocery in Golden.