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Bees Are My Business

PARADIS — Janett Cancella wore honeybee jewelry and a facemask that says “Bees Are My Business” last week as she tended to numerous hives on her property in Paradis. The hives full of busy bees are surrounded by sweet fruit trees perfect for pollination on a large tract of land.

For the past 20 years, Janett and her husband, A.J., have specialized in beekeeping. The Cancellas can be found at the weekly German Coast Farmers Market at Ormond Plantation in Destrehan, selling local spring, summer and fall honey. “Bees Are My Business” also offers fresh farm eggs, pickled items, creamed honey, honey butter, bee pollen and more.

A.J.’s grandmother kept bees, and he was interested in carrying on that tradition.

Janett and A.J. received their first beehive in 2000 from master beekeeper and treasured mentor James Polk.

A.J. would come home and watch the honeybees in the backyard. Janett filmed videos of them and found herself mesmerized by the tiny world the bees operated diligently and methodically. One time, she watched as a bumblebee landed on the outside of the hive. The honeybee guards emerged, pulled the bumblebee inside the hive and had it killed and pushed back outside the hive within 45 seconds.

“James Polk was a master beekeeper for 66 years. We used to go and help him remove bees out of people’s houses. Then we would go and give the bees a new home. That’s what got us started in it,” Janett said. “Eventually, we had 20 hives in our backyard. Mr. Polk taught us a lot about the honeybees. When he passed away, he left us his bees.”

Between their home and their bee farm in Paradis, the Cancellas currently oversee 89 hives.

A.J. and Janett said honeybees are essential to a healthy agriculture economy.

“Honeybees are the only bee that pollinates to produce the seed for human consumption,” Janett said.

Pollination isn’t the only benefit bees bring to our world. According to the Cancellas, their honey and pollen contains antibiotic properties. Honey can be applied to wounds as a natural antiseptic or ingested to soothe a sore throat.

Allergy-sufferers can also benefit from a daily dose of spring, summer or fall honey.

“In different times of the year, you get a different taste in your honey because of the different things that are blooming,” Janett said. “If you have allergies in the spring, you want to go with your spring honey. If you have allergies in the summer, you want to go with your summer honey. I love doing taste tests of all of my products. If you’re not doing it for allergies, your taste buds will tell you which one you like.”

Janett explained that spring honey has a light, sweet taste. Summer honey is a little less sweet, and the fall honey is more robust with more antioxidants.

Honeybee pollen has similar benefits, and Janett adds a little bit to her coffee every morning.

Modern beehives, such as those found on the Cancella property, are comprised of a set of rectangular wooden boxes with movable frames holding sheets of wax or plastic foundation. The honeybees build their honeycombs on these frames, making it easy for the beekeeper to slide a piece out and take an inside look at the hive.

Instead of staying where the honey is, the queen will move to a different “chamber” to lay her eggs. While worker bees only live an average of 42 days, queens live three to five years and lay eggs throughout the warmer part of the year.

“She’ll lay anywhere from one to 3,000 eggs a day. Every 21 days in the cycle, they are born,” Janett said. “If the winter stays warm, she can mate all year. Three years ago, we didn’t have a winter, and we had the best honey flow you’ve ever seen. This year we had a good honey flow also.”

Bees Are My Business also gets frequent calls to help remove beehives from homes. The Cancellas have helped other locals get started with beekeeping, whether they are looking for pollination in home gardens or if they are eager to produce their own honey.

Janett said aspiring beekeepers must check with their neighbors for approval before purchasing their first hive.

In addition to offering honey, the Cancellas accept pre-orders on farm fresh eggs and seasonal fruit. Please call 504-451-9091 to place an order or visit http://www.germancoastfarmersmarket.org to see when Bees Are My Business will present as a vendor in the German Coast Farmer’s Market.

More information about honeybees and the benefits of honey can be found online at http://www.beesaremybusiness.com/index.html.