BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO
Bjorn’s Colorado Honey is a small-batch, local honey producer based in Boulder. Pontus is the beekeeper working with his wife Lara and daughter Ester close by his side. We had the absolute pleasure of meeting this family at Firefly Handmade on Old South Gaylord St. last summer. Lara was kind enough to sit down with us and offer a glimpse into the life of a beekeeper, as well as the health benefits of eating local honey regularly.
Your husband is originally from Sweden, which is where he learned the practice of beekeeping. Can you tell us more about this journey and how he came to make a home here in Colorado?
We are small-batch honey producers based in Boulder, Colorado. Pontus, our beekeeper, grew up in Sweden and learned the practice from his grandfather Björn; the company’s namesake. He started Björn’s in 2012 when he moved to Colorado to marry me, his wife and business partner. Because Pontus’ family in Sweden are beekeepers, and he grew up helping them in the beehives, and at local markets and events, he has always known he wanted to be a beekeeper. He figured he’d take over the honey business in Sweden, but when we met, he fell in love with Colorado and decided to make a go of it here.
We met when we were in our early twenties and traveling in Southeast Asia with friends. We fell in love almost immediately. We did the long-distance thing for two years before finally deciding to get married so Pontus could live here permanently.
We chose Colorado because I had a good job in tech at the time, and Pontus has always been an avid skier (as am I), so making a life here appealed to both of us. We weren’t sure a honey company would work in Colorado, as beekeeping is difficult here. Colorado is too “high and dry” for honeybees. In general, they prefer more temperate climates with more humidity. Pontus has struggled a lot to build up the number of hives he has, and it’s always hard to see how many hives we lose over the winter season. That being said, we love being Colorado beekeepers and pride ourselves on our handcrafted honey and bee-based products!
You have a wide range of products. What can you tell us about your goods, and can you explain to our readers the benefits of Propolis?
The focus of Björn’s Colorado Honey is to provide top-quality local honey produced in our Swedish family tradition. Our owner and founder, Pontus, is a 3rd generation beekeeper from Sweden, and he aims to bring Swedish-style honey and beekeeping practices to the Colorado front range.
Björn’s Colorado Honey is the only producer in the USA that sells a Propolis Honey, meant for people who eat honey to stay healthy. Propolis Honey was created by Pontus’ father Torbjörn in Sweden, and it quickly became a hit. When Pontus moved to Colorado, he couldn’t resist whipping up his own batch. By blending Colorado honey with high-quality propolis extract, we boost honey’s health benefits. Propolis, an age-old remedy made by the bees from tree and plant resins, is known to bolster the immune system and contains antifungal and antibacterial properties. Propolis Honey is our signature product, and we’re proud to teach the American market about this amazing substance that honeybees make.
We look forward to seeing you at all of the Firefly Handmade Markets, especially when they’re on Old South Gaylord St. Where can we find your goods when it’s outside of market season?
We sell in several retail outlets around Colorado. Marczyk Fine Foods was one of the first outlets to pick up our honey when we started in 2012, so we always have to give them a shout-out. We are also pleased to be a part of the small retail selection at all three Rosenberg’s Bagels locations. Terra Apothocaroy on Broadway also sells many of our honey varieties. Miller Lane Mercantile is a great option for those who live on the west side. Another fun shop that carries our honey is Eyes Open Project in the lobby of the Source Hotel. For Wash Park folks, Devils food Bakery is right in the neighborhood, and we’re so grateful to be a part of the amazing retail offerings.
What advice would you give to someone looking to learn the craft of beekeeping?
Pontus, our beekeeper, always says it’s best to take a class in person if you are serious about getting beehives. Beekeeping is both an art and a science. Local knowledge is a must since local conditions can greatly affect how you care for your hives. A great resource for classes is your local beekeeper’s association. The Colorado State Beekeeper Association is the perfect place to start for those looking to get into beekeeping in Colorado. They have a comprehensive list of classes in Colorado on their website.
Has your daughter started taking on the trade?
Yes, she has! She’s been helping Pontus in the beehives since she could walk (she just turned 5) and even has her own bee suit. She loves looking at the bees with her papa and tasting fresh honeycomb straight out of the hive. She isn’t scared of honeybees and encourages her friends at school to also not be afraid. We hope she will continue our family tradition of beekeeping throughout her life.
Do you have a favorite recipe for using your delicious honey?
We try to write up our favorite recipes on the news section of our website. Our all-time favorite recipe is Honey Baklava. The rich buttery layers of filo dough with our honey’s sweet and floral flavor are a match made in heaven! Our Honey Rose Lemonade is an easy recipe that’s great for summer. For those looking to try something savory, our Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey Sauce is really fun.
The importance of keeping these pollinators safe and thriving is huge. What can you tell our readers who may not be up to speed on the “save-the-bees” narrative?
Honeybees, along with a number of other pollinators, are responsible for billions of dollars worth of pollination each year. It’s not only food and flower crops that get pollinated by these wonderful creatures; it’s also open space and wildlands that benefit from their services. Pollinators help keep our food chain diverse and our lands thriving. By protecting them, we are protecting the foods we eat and the land we love. Supporting local beekeeping is a great way to support the honeybee population in your area. You can also skip spraying your yard with pesticides to herbicides, which can harm pollinators and prevent dandelions and other flowering weeds from blooming. These weeds are important pollen and nectar sources for pollinators, especially in increasingly urbanized areas. Honeybees don’t just give us honey; they are also a critical part of our food chain and local ecosystem.
What can we expect from Bjorns in the future?
We hope to continue increasing the number of beehives we have to produce more local honey each season. We also hope to participate in additional farmers markets so we can make buying local honey easy for more people in Colorado. We have some exciting new infused honey varieties in the works, and while I don’t want to say too much, we are going to release a new one just in time for fall. We have our annual release of our Lavender Honey coming up in July. It coincides with the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms Lavender Festival. Our Lavender Honey is infused for a full year with organically grown Colorado western slope lavender blossoms, and it’s not to be missed.
Thank you so much, Lara! We are grateful for the important work you do and for the delicious honey you produce! If you’d like to learn more visit bjornscoloradohoney.com.