Honey, those Knapp Ranch bees are serving up some really sweet stuff | VailDaily.com

Honey, those Knapp Ranch bees are serving up some really sweet stuff

Edwards area ranch apiary uncorks specialty honeys, offered for sale at new Eagle Ranch marketplace

Special to the Daily
Carmen Weiland oversees the beekeeping operations at Knapp Ranch located along West Lake Creek, south of Edwards
Dominique Taylor/Dominique Taylor Photography

Honey & Lavender Cookies

⅔ cup / 170g melted Butter
1 cup / 215g white Sugar
¼ cup / 75g Honey
1 Egg
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
2 cups/ 300g Flour
2 tsp Baking soda (Bicarbonate)
½ tsp Salt
Coarse grained sugar, for rolling
2 Tbsp Lavender buds, fresh or dried

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C (165°C for convection ovens.)

2. Beat the melted butter, honey, and sugar until smooth.

3. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well incorporated then fold in the flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. The dough will be soft, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and until it has firmed up.

5. Take 1-2 Tbsp-sized pieces of dough and shape it into balls. Flatten them with the palm of your hand and then roll in the coarse-grained sugar, coating the whole cookie. Sprinkle the tops with lavender buds and gently press them into the cookie.

6. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes or until the edges are crispy and light brown in color. They’ll still be soft when you take them out so let them cool to room temperature before eating.

We have all heard of fancy wine experts, but did you know there is such a thing as a honey sommelier?

There is, and the Vail Valley has one — Carmen Weiland of Knapp Ranch is our resident honey sommelier-in-training.

Like fine wine, fine honey can be in strong demand and Weiland wants to make sure everyone is aware of the short-term availability of one of the top five honeys in the world — Fireweed honey harvested from Trappers Lake, Colorado, right here in the Eagle River Valley. 

Weiland oversees the beekeeping operations at Knapp Ranch located in the West Lake Creek Valley. At Knapp Ranch, in addition to a thriving working farm using sustainable practices, the long-term goal is to use the bees primarily for pollination and honey production, as well as to help educate aspiring beekeepers.

The limited Trappers Lake Fireweed honey — all 24 pounds — is jarred and for sale at the newly-opened Knapp Harvest marketplace in Eagle. According to Weiland, Trappers Lake Fireweed is effective in preventing the growth of bacteria in the body. It can treat a variety of illnesses and can be served in a variety of ways — with cheeses, and as an ingredient in salad dressings, drinks and cookies.

In addition to the honey, Knapp’s Nectar is an exclusive line of lip balms and other therapeutic products made from the Knapp Ranch bees, and also available for purchase at Knapp Harvest.

Hardest workers at Knapp Ranch

Knapp’s Nectar extra-fine grade wildflower honey is derived from a unique blend of native Colorado wildflowers, fruit tree blossoms as well as annual and perennial flowers.

“We sell honey from our own hives as well as products sourced from other small producers whose hives range from the high mountain environments in Aspen and Vail to the rich and fertile Colorado River Valley located to our west,” Weiland said. “Our quality control measures trace the source of our honey products, ensuring that that our product is sustainable, and that the pollen, enzymes, vitamins and minerals remain intact from hive to bottling.

“Our bees are the backbone of our business,” Weiland said. “They’re by far the hardest workers at Knapp Ranch, and some of the hardest working creatures on the planet, and the services they and other pollinators provide not only help sustain the modern food system but also create attractive habitats for other animals, insects and birds.”

At Knapp Ranch, the bees live in wooden structures, built on site in the pattern of Slovenian bee houses. Designed to withstand the quickly changing climatic conditions at an elevation of 9,000 feet, the houses can accommodate two hives.

From April to October, bees have free rein to forage for nectar within 2 miles of their hives. At Knapp Ranch, the bees produce an extra-fine grade of wildflower honey derived from a mix of native wildflowers, fruit tree blossoms and annual and perennial flowers planted in garden beds adjacent to the Main Lodge and in The Farm’s vegetable rows.

Bees living at a 9,000-foot elevation is no easy feat. A major challenge for beekeeping in the mountains is protecting the hives from winter’s snow and wind.

“They need all the food,” Weiland said. “In the winter, we leave them with 100 pounds of honey and we only supplement if necessary with sugar patties.”

Honey array

In addition to the Trappers Lake Firewood, the following blends of 100% pure, raw and unfiltered honey, collected directly from hives in pristine locations across Colorado’s Western Slope, can be purchased at Knapp Harvest and the Hoop House:

  • Bookcliff Blend — A desert wildflower and alfalfa blend, harvested along the Colorado River Corridor at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
  • Liquid Gold — A native wildflower and clover blend, harvested in the lower Roaring Fork River Valley at elevations ranging from 6,000 to 7,000 feet.
  • Skiers Delight — A high meadow/valley clover honey harvested from Basalt to Aspen, Colorado at elevations ranging from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
  • Dark Amber — A high altitude, late-season wildflower honey harvested in the Colorado River Basin and the Roaring Fork Valley at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

All in the family

Weiland developed her apiary passion and expertise about six years ago when the beekeeper position at Knapp Ranch opened up. She had been serving as the estate manager but her uncle was a beekeeper in the Alps in Germany. Weiland jumped at the opportunity to learn how to take care of the bees at Knapp Ranch and carry on the research.

The Ranch sent Weiland to Slovenia, one of the top beekeeping countries in the world. She continues to study apitherapy, a type of alternative therapy that uses products directly from hives.

“The hive has a lot of essential oils and propolis,” Weiland said. “The work in Slovenia opened my eyes. There is a whole world of healing through the beehive that America hasn’t touched yet.”

And Weiland, despite uniquely being allergic to honey, is just getting started. In addition to continuing to study apitherapy, getting her honey-tasting sommelier certification and master beekeeping certification, she is in the process of starting a Rocky Mountain chapter beekeeping club. She is sourcing different natural honeys from around Colorado and the world.

“Taking care of people is always in my line of work,” Weiland said.

She explained that the term “natural honey” means that the honey was not heated. The heating can kill all the beneficial nutrients so it’s like eating sugar.

“At Knapp Ranch, we use heating blankets that don’t go over 100 degrees. We are very excited to bring different flavors to people. If you have really bad allergies, eating local is better. We’re working on introducing a new honey every month to show medicinal value and why it’s healthy for you. Each honey has its own special attributes,” Weiland said.

Save the bee

At Knapp Ranch, they believe in saving bees.

When you see the Save the Bee symbol on their honey products, it means that a portion of the proceeds are going to SAVE the BEE, a partnership of researchers, beekeepers, businesses, and consumers committed to protecting honey bee health.

Knapp Ranch honey and Knapp Nector products are available at Knapp Harvest marketplace located at 717 Sylvan Lake Road, next to Color Coffee Roasters in downtown Eagle Ranch. Hours of operation are Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Wednesdays–Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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