For any Loveland resident in search of a sweet snack or anyone passing US 34 on their way into the mountains, Joe Mulholland has a special stop offering a tasty, locally made treat.
Mulholland is a co-owner of Papa Joe’s Local Raw Honey, a honey shop in western Loveland at the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon. And unlike other honey stores, Papa Joe’s is always open; a large cooler sits on the old wooden doorstep near a sign on the door that says, “take the honey – leave the money.”
Mulholland said that when the store opened about 15 years ago, he would be sitting in the building working a more normal shift. However, he quickly realized that he didn’t like sitting there all day. Eventually he got the idea to leave the cooler outside all the time so people can literally come and get honey whenever they want.
While the box is open to the public and operates on the honor system, Mulholland said the majority of the people who get through are honest and pay exactly for what they take. He said that in the past he had people who were only 50 cents short and would send him the lost change to make sure they paid the full amount.
âIt was amazing,â he said, adding that it was a great source for teaching honesty to younger children who see their parents or loved ones paying their debts even though no one is around to take the money themselves.
But Mulholland loves his honey and he loves his bees. His wife and co-owner of the store, Olga, said Joe “loves to sit by the beehives and listen to the bees.”
Joe Mulholland said that a selection of cream honey that Papa Joe’s sells not only makes a delicious candy, but is also aimed at helping the body, with options like ginger cream and honey that can aid digestion.
âIt’s not just honey. It’s a healing thing, âsaid Mulholland. “It’s pretty great food.”
1) What’s the best honey you’ve made?
(The) best honey is honey fortified with hibiscus. The perfect mix of sweet honey and the sour taste that the hibiscus flowers add makes for an amazing taste.
2) How did you get into the honey business?
(I) read a poem by Mary Oliver. (It) piqued my interest that honey was easily recovered from the thighs of bees. (That) is the essence of honey.
3) How much work is there in making just one jar of honey?
The bees do most of the work. A single bee produces one twelfth of a teaspoon in its lifetime (and a bee lives 30 days). A typical beehive has 60,000 bees, so together they can store a lot of honey. Then we extract the honey, filter it and pour it into jars and label it. The typical production for a single beehive for us is 35 pounds. You need an additional 90 for yourself to get through the winter.
4) What is it like to work for and care for bees as a profession?
I think beekeeping was my little part in making the world a better place. Bees are in decline due to pesticides, lack of food and climate change. Planting flowers and using natural pest control products are things we can all do. I help people start their own beehives at home and take care of them to increase the bee population.
5) What is the meaning and impact of buying honey from a local producer?
Local honey is the best in many ways. You will get a local honey with local pollen that will help with allergies. Most small beekeepers use organic practices to keep their bees healthy. I produce raw and unfiltered honey that gives you all the healing properties (antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidants), suppresses coughs, promotes sleep, is good for wounds and burns, boosts the immune system and helps with digestion and intestinal health. So a lot of good things. Most of honey’s health benefits are lost through heating and filtering. Most commercial manufacturers heat and filter. Also, much of the honey used in stores comes from China, known for heating and filtering and using hash chemicals that end up in your honey. The price is cheaper, but all you get is sweet with no added health benefits. We produce a range of cream honey with added health benefits. We add ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and have lemon for a sore throat and orange-flavored honey just for fun.
job: Co-owner of Papa Joe’s Local Raw Honey
Time in Loveland: Since 1975.
Papa Joe’s location: 4855 W. Eisenhower Blvd.
Papa Joe’s opening hours: 24/7 self-service box. Do you need cash or a check for the exact amount.
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