Q & A with Stephanie Bruneau, author of “The Benevolent Bee”

By Shelley Pierce | March 25, 2018
Image by The Quarto Group
by Shelley Pierce
March 25, 2018

Stephanie Bruneau is a beekeeper, herbalist, and artist. She runs The Benevolent Bee, a small business selling honey, beeswax candles, herbal body care products, and other handcrafted and hive-derived items. At the Benevolent Bee “Teaching Apiary” Stephanie observes, learns, and teaches about bees and bee behavior to students of all ages. Stephanie has also taught classes about bees and the products of the honeybee hive at Northeastern University, The Cambridge Center for Adult and Community Education, The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, The Boston School of Herbal Studies, and Temple University. In her latest book The Benevolent Bee, Bruneau explores the uses of six products of the beehive: honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax, and bee venom.  Read on to learn more and enter to win one of two copies of this Quarto Group book.

1. How and why did bees become your passion? How many hives do you maintain? Are your children beekeepers in the making?

I have always been interested in bees, as long as I can remember. Just like a painter is drawn to her brush, or a musician is drawn to her instrument, when I discovered the art and craft of beekeeping, I felt at home and at perfectly at ease — I knew I had found my calling! Currently, I maintain several hives in each of four locations in the Philadelphia area — at my home; the West Laurel Hill Cemetery; the roof of the Weavers Way Food Coop; and my children’s elementary school, the Miquon School. My kids (Clara, 6 and Atticus, 3) both love bees and beekeeping. They aren’t just beekeepers in the making, they ARE beekeepers! They help me with the hives, and also help with beekeeping education to students of all ages (especially 6-year old Clara). It’s wonderful to share my passion with my children, really a dream come true.


2. How does your book help capture the benevolence of a bee?

The word ‘benevolent’ means ‘well meaning and kindly’ — just like the honey bee. Honey bees are often so misunderstood — people are afraid of their sting, confusing these gentle fuzzy creatures with their less kindly cousins, the wasps. The Benevolent Bee aims to dispel the myths surrounding the misunderstood bee, letting readers know that unlike wasps or hornets, honey bees truly are benevolent creatures, friendly and gentle, and overall quite good natured.


3. Why should we “bee the change” we wish to see in the world?

Personal transformation and social transformation go hand in hand. I look to bees for guidance on how to live my life — the honeybee teaches me to value my community, to do my part to the best of my abilities for the good of the whole, to share what I have in excess, to live gently, and to appreciate nature’s generous gifts. I try to live with intention and consciousness, and with the hope that my life will inspire others to ‘bee the change’ themselves!


4. I absolutely adore books with do-it-yourself projects. Tell us about what your book has to offer in that respect.

The Benevolent Bee is full of do-it-yourself projects! Each chapter explores a different product of the honey bee hive, describing how and why it’s made by the bees, how it’s harvested by the beekeeper, how it’s been used by civilizations around the world throughout history, and how it’s used today in nutrition, health and wellness, and craft. Each chapter ends with a series of DIY recipes — You’ll learn how to make salves for burns and a cough syrup from raw honey; how to make a propolis tincture, an infused oil, hand-dipped beeswax luminaries, and much more.

Check out this complimentary project: Lemon Ginger and Sage Cold and Cough Syrup


5. Are you continually discovering new and unusual uses for beeswax and other bee byproducts? If so, tell us about some of these newfound discoveries.

I am continually learning new uses for bee products, and I imagine I will continue to learn my whole life long — if I’m lucky! Recently, I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with coating muslin fabric in a mixture of beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine rosin. The waxed fabric turns into a breathable yet water resistant wrap that you can use just like plastic wrap, but it’s reusable and contains only natural ingredients! This is a great project for folks who are trying to lessen their use of plastic.

Win one of two copies of “The Benevolent Bee“!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, April 1, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

To bee or not to bee?  That is the question.

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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