Behind the Mask: Margaret Barna of Barna Bee Honey
September is National Honey Month so it seems only appropriate we interview Margaret Barna of Barna Bee Honey this week. Margaret Barna is the founder of Barna Bee Honey a 4th generation family of Beekeepers.
So Margaret, tell us a bit about yourself and how did you become interested in beekeeping?
Barna Bee Honey is a family tradition that started in Europe over a century ago. My father is a "master beekeeper” and when he emigrated to the United States, he brought his knowledge and passion for beekeeping with him.
Margaret is a member of Honey Bee Apitherapy Society of Long Island. She has worked beside family member Carl A. Jurica, Ph.D. (author of Practical Queen Production In the North). She’s also worked on Long Island with Frederique Keller, LAc and studied at the Charles Mraz Apitherapy course and conference in California.
Linda: Tell us about your operation, where are your hives:
Margaret: All of our hives are located in New York. We choose various nectar sources in order to continue to develop our product. We are currently busy expanding and managing our colonies spread over 6 properties here on Long Island. Each hive produces a limited edition harvest and offers a true taste of New York. Our Barna Bees roam freely from flower to flower gathering nectar and pollen. The flavor changes subtly with each season because of the change in flowers - but is always extraordinary.
Barna Bee Honey is extremely rare in that we facilitate the entire honey process, from keeping bees selling directly to our customers, that’s rare for a honey distributor.
Linda: You are one busy-bee -keeper Margaret. How has bee keeping changed over the years?
Margaret: We have seen an increase of pesticide spraying and lack of foraging in addition to poor beekeeping practices.
Linda: Do you use pesticides?
Margaret: No, a strong hive will survive naturally without acid chemicals therefore we prefer to not use chemicals. We are dedicated to providing the highest tender love and care for our most appreciated insect. Like my father says, we are beekeepers, not bee killers!
Linda: What’s new in the bee keeping world?
Our newest line is something we are really excited about. We moved a colony of honey bees over to the blessed property of St. Francis Church in Mount Sinai earlier this summer and the bees are thriving. We call it HOLY HONEY! The honey is very light with a floral taste. We have a limited amount of this honey this season because it takes time before we can harvest. We are giving 100% of the profits to the church. You can purchase our Holy Honey at the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai.
Plus with the growing demand and popularity for apitherapy products, honey bee venom therapy, and with our love of honey in mind—we’ve got some chapsticks and herbal elixir products in the works.
Linda: Why is it important for people to know where their honey comes from?
Margaret: Most honey is illegally transported into the USA from other countries, honey is one of the most unregulated food labels on the market. Nowhere do they source what goes into the honey or identify if the bees are artificially fed. We produce and create all our products and take pride in GUARANTEEING that all our honey products are RAW, UNHEATED, UNPROCESSED, UNFILTERED and contain NO ADDITIVES. That's our Barna Bee Promise!
Linda: Is bee keeping dangerous?
Margaret: It could be. We recommend getting a mentor and investing a lot of time into learning this trade before making any commitments.
So I have to ask because our readers will want to know: how often are you stung? Margaret tells me: Sometimes not enough. We believe honey bee venom is a natural cure for different sicknesses.
Linda: Noticing the temperature dropping makes me wonder, do bees live in the winter?
Margaret: Yes, they do.
Linda: What do they eat?
Margaret: Honey! We leave lots of honey in the hive for honeybees to feed on during the cold months of winter and into early spring.
What’s your favorite favorite part of beekeeping?
The best is the golden reward of Long Island's fresh delicious wildflower honey.
When I asked Margaret, if there is anything else we should know about bee keeping, she told me an interesting fact: I have been told that beekeepers live the longest and the universe picks the beekeeper. The Barnas are meant to Bee. LOL
Last but not least, I asked Margaret: Why do you come to the Three Village Farmers Market?
Margaret: We come to the market because of the people as well as the community that TVM creates.
What an amazing morning I spent with the lovely Maggie at the Barna Bee Honey Apiaries. Barna Bee Honey is ideal for honey lovers so stop by and meet Maggie to pick up some of her delicious Barna Bee Honey this Friday between 3:00 and 7:00pm at Three Village Farmers Market, 93 North Country Road, Setauket.