The Secret Life of Beekeepers (Part 3: The Land of Milk and Honey)

I imagine they readied themselves as they made their way east toward Wisconsin, little wings linked, galoshes on, scarves thrown jauntily over their shoulders and then — 

“One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight! Schmiel! Schmazel! Hasenpfeffer incorporated!” — a whole hive full of Laverne and Shirley-esque worker bees headed to work in a Wisconsin brewery!

That’s the way I picture it anyway.

In truth, the honey bees from the whimsically named Moonflower Farms don’t march merrily off to work in a brewery, but their honey does.

While some of the Moonflower Farms honey I saw harvested last week will be bottled, sold and given away to lucky friends and family, a good chunk gets delivered to the Duesterbeck’s Brewing Company, a charming micro-brewery located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

A converted family farm owned by the Duesterbeck family for more than 150 years, the Duesterbeck Brewing Company offers 30 types of beer ranging from ale to stouts, IPAs and porters and four flavors of hard seltzers.

They use honey in the last 15 minutes of the boil when they are brewing Hefeweizen, or wheat beers and they don’t have to look too far to collect the honey.

Laura Johnson, who owns Duesterbeck Brewing Company with her husband Ben, is also a bee tender.

“I’m a huge pollinator gardener and love being able to feed the bees pollinating from my plants that gets taken back to the hive and harvested for the honey that goes in our beer,” she said. The Johnsons get their honey from Moonflower Farms and from Henningfield Honey Hives, located just a quarter of a mile up the road from the Duesterbeck property.

In addition to flavoring, carbonating and fermenting beer, honey offers an impressive variety of health benefits that pre-date the written language. Archeologists discovered cave paintings in Spain that showed humans foraging honey more than 8,000 years ago. Sealed honey does not spoil and can, like the hieroglyphics that depict it, last thousands of years.

A teaspoon of honey can quiet a cough (especially if you stir it into a nice, lemony hot toddy). It’s also very good for digestion and, apparently, can be used as an antiseptic and a salve for burns.

I like it drizzled on greek yogurt or stirred into a cup of tea.

So, the next time you see a honey bee buzzing around town, send a proper thank you its way. Same goes for the beekeepers that keep them all healthy and safe.

As I always suspected, Wisconsin really is the land of milk and honey (and excellent craft beer).

I am looking forward to using this delicious honey in my tea, on my yogurt and in my granola. I also love a good peanut butter and honey on toast snicker snack.
My friend Catherine (McKenzie Images) took this amazing picture of a honey bee covered in pollen as it works to extract nectar from this ironwood (a native Wisconsin plant).
Laura Johnson sent me this cool shot of a honey bee at work outside the Duesterbeck Brewing Company.
Some of the Moonflower Farms honey ends up in the beer at Duesterbeck Brewing Company. (Facebook photo)
The brewery has more than 30 kinds of cleverly named beer (another Facebook photo), including…
This wheat beer.
I realize I dated myself with the Laverne and Shirley reference, so here’s the opening to a really great show from the 70s. Schmiel! Schmazel!

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