We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Janine Barnes Webb, director of the ecologically-minded nursery at Costa Palmas. Originally from South Africa, Janine fell in love with the region and moved to the Baja nearly 30 years ago, settling in Rancho Leonero. She initially began her career at Costa Palmas working on the landscaping team and is now in charge of the expansive nursery, which is home to various indigenous plants and, now… bees!
Janine is currently heading up a project that has its roots dating back centuries: beekeeping. Apiculture, the keeping of bees on a large scale, requires sunny exposure, protection from cold winds, and access to fruit, vegetable, and other blossoms ripe for pollination. Each pound of honey produced requires 10 pounds of pollen – plenty of plants and flowers are necessary.
As a nature lover, Janine has truly enjoyed embarking on the process of learning more about bees. “We started with 2 hives in the nursery,” says Janine. “And, I knew nothing!” However, with the help of a local beekeeper, Rodolfo, and time, Janine has seen many benefits from having bees at the nursery. “The growth of the plants and the trees are more prolific,” according to Janine. “The bees pollinate everything, and in turn, the growth process has increased.”
Janine visits the hives weekly and has been recording the progress of the hives since she began on 15th January 2020. At present, the bees produce approximately 8 gallons of honey from the two hives! Hives work as a single organism, with all colonies having one queen and a series of worker bees and drones. A single bee produces just ½ a teaspoon of honey for the duration of their lives and is born without knowing just how to make honey – the older bees teach the younger ones.
Since the bees require rain and flowers to pollinate, Costa Palmas recently brought in 50 eucalyptus trees as a pasture for the bees. “Eucalyptus is particularly valuable,” says Janine, “because they provide a reliable pollen source and nectar flow.” Eucalyptus can also give honey a very distinctive and delicious peppermint taste.
The organic honey produced at Costa Palmas is available for purchase at Casena, the fresh market located in the Marina Village. In addition, the honey is supplied to Gonzalo Cerda, Executive Chef at Costa Palmas, for inclusion in recipes at the various Costa Palmas restaurants and eateries.