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A Biography of Hossein Yeganehrad of Caspian Apiaries

If you are involved in beekeeping in Alberta or British Columbia you may have heard of Hossein Yeganehrad, his company Caspian Apiaries or his supplement Caspian Solution. To understand Hossein and the value of Caspian Solution, it is necessary to understand more about him, his family and their history in beekeeping.

The Yeganehrad family have been successful beekeepers in Iran for 165 years. Hossein’s grandfather and namesake, was a beekeeper and Hossein’s father, Zabi, had bees all of his life. At 105 years old he was one of the world’s oldest beekeepers. Beekeeping is a prestigious profession in that part of the world; Iranian beekeepers have been plying their trade for more than 3,000 years and there are currently 350,000 beekeepers in the country with 2,000,000 hives. In Iran and most of the other countries in the region honey is highly valued while sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners are considered to be inferior products. The value of the honey gives beekeepers added status.

Hossein began his beekeeping career at the age of seven when he decided that he would start his own business without financial help from any friends or relatives. First, he began collecting flowers and fruit and raised enough money to buy one lamb. After six months he sold the sheep and used the money to buy his first hive. All the while Hossein’s father had 150 hives nearby, but Hossein was determined to be a self made man. By the time Hossein was nine he had five hives.

Early in his life Hossein learned how important it was to have bees that are strong, well nourished and free of disease. The Yeganehrad farm is near Chaluse in the province of Mazandaran and this area has a large honey flow during the orange blossom season. This honey flow attracts beekeepers from other provinces and, when Hossein was only nine, this influx of hives brought diseases and varroa mite to the family apiary for the first time. Hossein’s father lost 444 of his 450 hives and Hossein lost 3 of his 5 hives. Both Hossein and his father rebounded quickly, from 3 hives Hossein increased to 20, then from 20 to 80. At the age of 13 Hossein had 400 hives and he started his own honey brand name Yeganeh Honey.

Yeganeh Honey is an organic honey in North America. The nectar for this honey comes from two pristine sources. The first source of nectar is the Yeganehrad family farm where only biological or all natural products are used to control weeds and fight, pests, fungus and bacteria. The farm consists of six acres of oranges and peaches, five acres of kiwi, and eight acres of rice. The second source of nectar is high mountain flowers and plants that are far removed from any chemical spray programs. Yeganeh Honey sells out as soon as it is available.

When he was very young Hossein began his quest for beekeeping knowledge, he read all of the literature that he could find and experimented with many new techniques in his own hives. Hossein traveled to many parts of the country to talk to beekeepers, government specialists, microbiologists, pharmacists or anyone else who would discuss bees or bee diseases. Hossein’s father introduced him to many specialists. By the time that Hossein was 14 he had developed biological control techniques for varroa mites and he was proficient in bee selection for hygienic behavior. PhDs and scientists in the Organization for Scientific and Industrial Research received Hossein’s letters on these subjects with excitement. Many of these same scientists shunned Hossein and told him to go away and study more basic material when they met him and discovered that he was only 14 years old. Despite a rather cool reception the Organization for Scientific and Industrial Research continued to work with Hossein studying plastic foundations, pollination and disease control. Hossein worked part time in the lab on varroa and tracheal mite control.

At 15 years of age Hossein created the first Caspian Solution recipes discovering that a certain blend of royal jelly, syrup, pollen and honey could either increase the amount of AFB and EFB in a diseased hive or increase the population in a healthy colony. At this time Hossein worked closely with his brothers Amir and Faragalla to develop the methodologies that would enable a mixture of Caspian Solution and a small dose of antibiotics to eliminate disease from infected colonies. The scope and sophistication of this work increased and by 1992, at the age of 20, Hossein was in a period of intensive lab work with a team of microbiologists and pharmacists that he had assembled. Disease samples were analyzed in the lab, and there were new and successful techniques developed for raising queens, disease control and increasing populations. At the same time new blends of royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen were created for human consumption, disease control, and animal nutrition.

High school was a very unique experience for Hossein and his instructors. As is the case with most farm children, Hossein was called away to work with the kiwis, oranges, peaches and rice, but the greatest demand on his time was his career as a bee specialist and consultant to other beekeepers and government science ministries. The demanding curriculum gave Hossein an opportunity to learn economics, math, business management, accounting and writing while he was running a company, conducting scientific research and developing an advanced understanding of apiculture. Hossein decided to finish the work for his diploma when he was 22.  University did not seem necessary, therefore, he spent the next two years increasing his knowledge and building his business.

As is the case in most countries in Europe and the Middle East, military service is compulsory for young men who are out of school; therefore, in 1996 at age 24 Hossein began a two-year stint in the army. Hossein was not a great soldier, but many science ministries had concluded that Hossein’s knowledge was vital to the agricultural economy in Iran and these scientists explained this situation to his commanding officer. As a result Hossein enjoyed many vacations and special leaves. It was during his army service that he wrote four papers for Apimondia 1997 and that same year he was recognized by the Iranian Government as one of the top scientists from around the world. This award was in the form of a special invitation to the Tenth Kharazmi International Festival to “honour the great efforts and endeavors made by paramount Iranian and foreign researchers, inventors and innovators.” Hossein’s military service was finished in December of 1998.
In 1999 Hossein returned to civilian life and full time beekeeping. Three of his submissions for Apimondia 1999 were accepted, and along with a fellow microbiologist and pharmacist, received a visa to attend the canadian conference in Vancouver.  At the last minute his two associates backed out and Hossein came to Canada alone, at the time he only knew two words in English, taxi and hotel. The language barrier did not stop Hossein from communicating his novel ideas and a chance meeting with some Iranian-speaking businessmen helped him understand that there was opportunity in Canada so he decided to stay. While waiting for the processing of his application Hossein worked as a house painter for $2.50 per hour and traveled admiring the beauty of Canada and looking for beekeepers who he could help.

In March of 2000 Hossein discovered his first beekeeper in distress, a man with 45 hives infected with AFB disease. Hossein convinced him to let him treat the hives. In April, regional apiary inspector Jaquie Bunse conducted a very thorough inspection of the hives before the treatment was complete and discovered that 40 hives were healthy and five hives had a small number of AFB infected cells. Five hives were quarantined and an order to burn these hives was issued. In the first week of May Jaquie inspected the 45 hives again and found no disease. With the AFB eliminated the hives were divided and increased to 250 strong colonies. In the fall of 2000 Hossein went to the BCHPA Convention in Abbotsford where he discussed working with Adony Melathopoulos, Jaquie Bunse and Paul van Westendorp on AFB disease control.

In 2001 Hossein made his first Caspian Solution in Canada and began working with the Ministry of Agriculture. Hossein contributed his own bees to the Ministry of Agriculture study. Beekeepers in the Fraser Valley were very skeptical about Hossein’s methodologies, therefore, Hossein began trading disease free hives for those with AFB.  In each trade Hossein would eliminate the disease in the hive. Paul van Westendorp and Jaquie Bunse saw many of the results of this trade and treat program. In 2001 Hossein met Jean Marc Le Dorse and began working with him, using Caspian Solution for disease control, population increase and increasing the number of hives. It was at this time that Hossein saw that poor quality queens from Australia and Canada were causing some problems for Canadian beekeepers. That same year Hossein had six presentations accepted for Apimondia 2001 in Durban, South Africa.

Hossein has expanded his efforts and influence in 2002. He has talked to hundreds of beekeepers and several large commercial operations are regular Caspian Solution customers. Most remarkable amongst his accomplishments this year was the creation of 1,000 colonies from 100 colonies. Hossein loves bees and wants to help beekeepers succeed in their businesses. Sales of Caspian Solution are increasing and over the next two years Caspian Apiaries will increase by another 2,000 hives. Despite some frustrating set backs in 2001 and 2002 Hossein is building a team in Canada similar to his research and business team in Iran. Hossein is always excited to talk to beekeepers about disease control and population growth.