When asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” most students do not answer “beekeeper.” However, that’s just what Justin Stubblefield decided to be while he was still in high school.
Beekeeping caught Justin’s interest when he noticed some white boxes on the side of the road and found out they contained beehives.
“I ended up finding out that we’re losing one out of three hives every year due to Colony Collapse Disorder,” he said, explaining that Colony Collapse Disorder is a widespread, pesticide-induced malady which is causing a dramatic reduction in bee populations across the country. Up to one-third of all honey bees in America, which pollinate a substantial portion of our food supply, have vanished as a result of CCD. Stubblefield was inspired by these facts to do something about it.
Stubblefield ordered his first hive and started learning the art of beekeeping from experienced mentors. Two years later, when he graduated from high school, he went into the honey business, and Stubbees Honey was born. Traveling around to local farmers markets, he began building a clientele. Now, Stubbees Honey has shelf placement in Native Sun as well as many local markets, restaurants and cafes. Starting in mid-March, it will be available at 62 Winn-Dixie grocery stores across North Florida.
Stubblefield started out with two hives and two nucs (pronounced “nuke”). Nuc is short for nuclear hive, and it usually contains five frames from a working hive including a queen. He now runs up to 20 hives per year. His bees are European honeybees, a conventional type that is nonaggressive. His family contacted the city to prevent any pesticide applications in the area. The Stubblefields operate a commercial kitchen for processing and bottling the honey.
Stubbees honey is 100 percent “raw honey” meaning the honey has only been filtered once, and it has never been heated. This preserves its natural taste and health benefits. Research suggests that raw honey’s active phytonutrients are responsible for its many health benefits. The phytonutrients in raw honey have antiviral properties that may help boost your immune system and fight sickness. It is an anti-oxidant, and has antibacterial properties. Honey is also said to lower cholesterol and help allergies.
Stubblefield advises choosing local wildflower honey if you want to help alleviate allergies.
“The bees give you a sampling of nectar from many different types of flowering plants that are in your area,” he said.
Raw, wildflower honey has a small amount of pollen from all the flowers, trees and grasses visited by the bees that produced it. When you buy local raw honey, that pollen will likely match the pollen in your environment, and build up immunity to the pollen that triggers your allergies.
Not everyone is a fan of the taste of straight honey, however. That’s why Stubblefield developed his flavored cream honey. He took organic fruit and mixed it with honey to create an assortment of creamed varieties, including peach, strawberry, cinnamon, lemon and orange zest. Creamed honey does not contain cream: it is a mixture of crystallized and liquid honey, combined to create a creamy consistency.
Educating children about bees has been important to Stubblefield from the start, because he believes in mentoring the new generation of young beekeepers. He has taught children about beekeeping at Green Lotus Studios and the Beaches Green Market. He hopes to ensure that future generations will work to protect our bees.
Now that spring is here, and many people are planting new flowers and plants in their yards and gardens, it is important to select organic plants that will not harm bees. Many plants purchased at big box stores have been treated with pesticides that are poisonous to bees.
“You’re buying a magnet that’s going to kill them,” warned Stubblefield.
His advice: shop at local nurseries, and ask for organically grown herbs, flowers and other plants. Some herbs that honeybees particularly like include chives, lemon balm, mint, sage and rosemary. That way, Stubblefield says, “You feed yourself, and you feed the bees.”
If you must use pesticides in your yard, Stubblefield recommends using the granular varieties rather than the airborne kind, which is the most harmful to bees. Better yet, go organic, and use pest-repellant plant groupings such as marigolds, or pest-deterring bugs such as ladybugs.
You can find Stubbees Honey at the Jaxon Night Market and the Beaches Green Market, as well as in Native Sun, Winn-Dixie, and many other locations around town. Check their website at www.stubbees.com for locations and more information.