In divisive political times, it’s beautiful to see two world superpowers come together for the betterment of all mankind: bees and beer (BEEr?).
Urban beekeeper Paul Hekimian, of nonprofit HoneyLove, is teaming up with Santa Monica Brew Works to serve a honey-tinged brown ale by the very bees that Hekimian rescues and works with.
The beer—unnamed as of now but using ‘Yay Bees’ as the de facto beer name for now — will be brewed in time for National Honey Bee Day, August 17.
As well as lending a helping hand (and hive) to Santa Monica Brew Works, Hekimian is working on a mini-documentary of the whole affair. He hopes that by documenting the process from hive to happy hour, people will garner awareness and appreciation for bees and their protection.
“People always ask about why I keep bees, why I protect them, why they’re so important,” Hekimian said. “If we don’t [protect them], well, we die. They pollinate 1 in 3 pieces of food we eat. They’re highly important to us as a species.”
With HoneyLove, Hekimian fosters bees for weeks at a time until he finds them a new home. Most of the bees he finds are “street bees,” as he calls them, feral bees roaming about on the Santa Monica Pier or elsewhere who don’t have a home.
He catches them and eventually makes them a productive member of a hive society. Hekimian says he keeps a couple of hives for himself in his backyard because, well, he has a honey love.
“It’s local, it’s fresh and it’s delicious,” Hekimian says with a laugh.
The idea for a beer-bee connection occurred when Hekimian and Santa Monica Brew Works co-founder Carl Sharpley met each other in a non-bee-related manner — sharing some pints through Hekimian’s LA triathlon club.
Hekimian told Santa Monica Brew Works’ co-founder Carl Sharpley that he was a beekeeper and floated the idea of a beer collaboration to him. Sharpley was immediately on board.
“I work in the tasting room at Brew Works and Paul’s a friend of mine, a big supporter of ours,” Hekimian said. “We talked about working together and this was a perfect fit. Local honey to a local company to a local beer.”
The new partnership saw Sharpley and Brew Works’ head brewer Drew Pomatti dress up in beekeeper outfits to help Hekimian extract honey from his backyard hives.
The three took bees off their hives, taking the honeycomb and crushing it and straining it, filtering the honey into a big bucket that was later mixed into the beer Pomatti was brewing. They extracted 20 pounds worth of honey, about $700 worth.
(Luckily, no one was stung … at least the three think. “One of ‘em got me,” Sharpley said shortly after helping. “Oh no, that’s maybe an ant or spider or something,” Hekimian replied. “If it was a bee, you’d know. They sting like a mother.”)
The trio hopes the partnership — despite possible bee stings — will survive and see more collaborations.
“I’m hoping it’ll be a continuing partnership,” Pomatti said. “Maybe we’ll do some more events and beer collaborations in the future. There’s a lot of things on the list we can ferment with this honey.”
While Santa Monica will soon taste a beer that will surely get them buzzed (sorry), Hekimian hopes all of this leads to people finding empathy for the source of the locally-sourced honey: bees.
“We need to be the Lorax to the bees,” he said. “We need to give a voice to them and protect them. Instead of calling an exterminator, call us at HoneyLove. We want these little guys pollinating fruits and vegetables in our neighborhood.”
For more information, visit http://honeylove.org/ and http://santamonicabrewworks.com/