You may not recognize the name Lucy Wellhausen but I’m willing to bet you know Ohio Honey. Lucy, and her husband Charlie, are the duo behind our region’s most delicious honey. I love honey and its many uses and am a big fan of Ohio Honey. Of course I like it on certain cheeses and fruits, but my favorite use is generously drizzled over Greek yogurt mixed with frozen blueberries and Graham Cracker crumbs as an after dinner snack (or with Koshi Go Lean Crunch if it’s breakfast).
1. How did you get into the honey business? Many years ago, a friend’s father – who was a beekeeper, noticed that we have a very nice field – perfect—full of goldenrod blooms in the autumn, and asked if he could place a few hives. We replied – sure, as long as we don’t get stung! Well, every year, he would bring us a jar of honey and say thank you very much….and that was just fine until 1997 when he passed away. His family had no interest in beekeeping, so we inherited four beehives. Long story short – that was the beginning. We learned beekeeping and are so happy we did.
2. How many times have you been stung? It is an occupational hazard, but not that bad. We take precautions – such as wearing the beekeeper-garb and use a smoker to calm the honeybees when we are working the hives. Inevitably, one or two honeybees manage to get INSIDE the helmet or crawl up the leg, or get into our shoes. Ouch – the important thing is to remove the stinger as soon as you can. How often are you asked that? That question comes up more than any other, at least 2-3 times per month.
3. What’s the one thing about your job that would surprise people? Hmm, good question – maybe the fact that we LOVE to do what we do. Our job is actually FUN…never boring, and always full of surprises. For example, in springtime, when we are moving young hives to new farm locations, the honeybees sometimes manage to escape from the hive during transport – in the vehicle. That’s not so bad in a truck, but there have been times when we moved them in the Jeep, and the honeybees snuck out of the hive – and were flying around in the Jeep. It was interesting seeing the looks on other drivers’ faces looking – seeing the driver of a Jeep wearing a beekeepers helmet driving down the freeway!
4. Favorite use for honey, both food and other? The simplest use – spread on toast, chicken and for treating cuts or burns – since honey is anti-bacterial.
5. What do you love about Cleveland and what drives you nuts? Cleveland is emerging as one of the most interesting food capitals of the USA. And we are lucky to be able to provide honey to some of the most popular restaurants! See? Everything is honey-related! The thing about Cleveland that drives me nuts – construction detours and the frustrations of the ‘highs and lows’ we experience with our sports teams.
6. Favorite restaurant? This must be some kind of trick question. To be honest, I can’t single out just one.
7. What restaurant do you miss? Nostalgia kicks in on that question. I remember the good times at the old Captain Frank’s when we were kids.
8. Favorite honey pairing? Toss-up between the old reliable ‘honey and tea’ – and ‘honey and cheese’ – but wait, there’s more – don’t forget honey and peanut butter, and…
9. What book are you currently reading? Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
10. Last meal on Earth? It would be something in the comfort food department – maybe a Thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy.
11. If you weren’t in the honey business, what would you be doing? I suppose I’d still be doing escrows and mortgage loans.
13. What does raw honey mean? Raw honey has never been pasteurized, that’s how it keeps the healthy nutrients. Most of the honey on grocers’ shelves has been boiled, which removes the vitamins, minerals and lots of the flavor – all the good stuff is cooked out. Always buy your honey from a beekeeper.
14. Give us an interesting bee fact. A worker bee lives for about 45 days. In that time she will collect enough pollen and nectar to make 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.
15. How long does it take to get honey and how many bees do you have? The extraction process does not take long. Once the wax is removed from the frame, it is spun (using centrifugal force) and presto – raw honey! Each hive – in the height of the summer season – contains approximately 50,000-60,000 honeybees…too many to name!