Episode #139 — Beekeeping with Paul and Lynda Violassi

It’s your cousin Daria’s wedding and the DJ has just called the bride and groom to the dance floor for their first waltz as a married couple. Now, Daria has spent months bragging about how she’s not going to go generic for her wedding song. (Though it’s not clear why she has such an issue with “At Last.”) Everyone is forced to stand around that small wooden square while the photographer rudely pushes Uncle Jim out of the way to get the perfect shot. Daria, her rhinestones sparkling in the banquet hall lights, spins in slow motion toward her new husband as the opening notes of her perfect wedding song play. And just like that, they’re dancing to… “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses. While second cousin Syl gushes about how romantic the strings sound in the song, the rest of the guests ask each other, “Didn’t the bride die in the video for this song? And do we really have to stand here watching them dance for nine minutes?” Of course Daria didn’t choose the radio edit.

Consider this a public service announcements from your friends at the Appropriate Lyrics Division of Why? The Podcast. When planning a wedding, or any other love-themed event, an Elvis song could work. Just avoid “Suspicious Minds.” And Pearl Jam is great for many occasions, but maybe not “Better Man.” Yes to Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Our House” and no to Stephen Still’s “Love the One You’re With.” (Though, truthfully, we can’t argue with his sentiment.)

Thanks for bearing with us; we just had to get that off our collective chest now before the Roaring ’20s summer of love hits, as predicted by numerous media outlets looking for clicks. But if you’re inspired to get a soundtrack going for this week’s podcast episode, we highly recommend starting with “A Taste of Honey.” (The Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass version, of course!) That’s because we spoke with Paul and Lynda Violassi, owners of Violassi Farm in Davisburg, Michigan, and beekeeping hobbyists.

The Violassis have a lot of great things at their farm, but we spoke with them in particular about their bees. While some of us have more sedate hobbies like puzzling or tie dyeing (some of us — not us, specifically), Paul and Lynda aren’t particularly interested in just sitting around. For them, beekeeping is a labor of love, and they shared with us how they got into it, what it takes to care for bees, and what can be done with all that honey and other hive byproducts.

Of course, we had a lot of questions about getting stung. We’re not going to share the number of bees the Violassis have in their apiary right now, but once you hear the number you’ll either be intrigued or go running to cover your arms, legs, and face. Paul and Lynda explained how they harvest the honey, along with what they do with the hives in the fall and winter. We learned where beekeeping hobbyists get their bees from and why you should always be careful around semis, just in case they’re carrying cases of bees. (Note: Regardless, it’s just best practice to be careful around both semis and cases of bees.)

While Paul and Lynda are happy to put honey on an English muffin, there are also myriad other ways to use it. Listen to this week’s episode to find out how the Violassis produce tinctures and a couple of really delicious-sounding beverages. Unfortunately for us, they aren’t commercial beekeepers, so unless you’re in their neck of the woods you probably won’t get to try their products. But their passion and love for beekeeping might just inspire you to look into the hobby for yourself. Then you can make your own mead and make a lot of new friends that will undoubtedly come with it!

For more information about Paul and Lynda Violassi and their bees, and possible inspiration to have your own apiary, check them out on Facebook. We’re off to try and get an invitation to one of Paul and Lynda’s neighborhood parties, because they’re a lot of fun and we’re too lazy to ferment honey on our own. But we’ll show up blasting ABBA’s (or The Archies’) “Honey Honey” — hopefully the bees aren’t disturbed by Swedish pop sensations.

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