Hossein Yeganehrad founded Caspian Apiaries and developed Caspian Solution. The Yeganehrad family have been successful beekeepers in Iran for over 165 years. Hossein’s grandfather was a seasoned beekeeper and was one of the world’s oldest beekeepers at the age of 105. Beekeeping is a prestigious profession in Iran. Iranian beekeepers have been practising their trade for more than 3,000 years with approximately 350,000 beekeepers and 2 million hives. Honey is highly prized in Iran and in many other countries in the region, while sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners are considered inferior products.
Hossein began his beekeeping career at the age of seven when he decided he would start his own business without financial aid from friends or family. He collected fruit and flowers to raise enough money to buy a lamb. Six months later, he sold the lamb and used the money to buy his first hive. Although Hossein’s father had 150 hives, Hossein was determined to be independently successful. At the age of nine, Hossein had five hives of his own.
Hossein quickly learned the importance of having strong, well nourished and disease-free bees. The Yeganehrad farm is located near Chaluse in the province of Mazandaran where honey flow is abundant during the orange blossom season, attracting beekeepers from other provinces. This influx of hives carried diseases and varroa mite to the family apiary for the first time. Hossein’s father lost 444 of his 450 hives and Hossein lost three of his five hives. Both Hossein and his father quickly recovered; by the age of 13, Hossein had 400 hives and began marketing his honey as Yeganeh Honey.
Yeganeh Honey is an organic product manufactured from two separate nectar sources. The first source of nectar is the Yeganehrad family farm where only natural products are used to manage weeds and fight pests, fungus and bacteria; the farm comprises 11 acres of oranges, peaches and kiwis and eight acres of rice. The second source of nectar is mountain plants and flowers that have not been exposed to chemical spray programs.
Hossein began his quest for beekeeping knowledge at a young age. He read beekeeping literature and experimented with new techniques on his own hives. Hossein traveled to many parts of the country to talk to beekeepers, government specialists, microbiologists, pharmacists among others. At 14, Hossein developed biological control techniques for varroa mites and was proficient in bee selection for hygienic behavior. Hossein sent his findings to PhDs and scientists in the Organization for Scientific and Industrial Research. Some of the recipients of his letters deemed Hossein’s findings as unreliable because of his young age. Despite some member’s scepticism, the Organization continued to work with Hossein researching plastic foundations, pollination and disease control. Hossein also worked part-time in the lab on varroa and tracheal mite control.
At the age of 15, Hossein created the first Caspian Solution recipe and found that a certain blend of royal jelly, syrup, pollen and honey could increase the amount of AFB and EFB in a diseased hive and increase the population in a healthy colony. Hossein worked closely with his brothers to develop a mixture of Caspian Solution and a small dose of antibiotics that eliminated diseases from infected colonies. Hossein assembled a team of microbiologists and pharmacists to conduct extensive lab testing. Disease samples were analyzed and new techniques were developed for raising queens, controlling disease and increasing populations. New blends of royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen were produced for human consumption and animal nutrition.
Hossein spent time working on the family farm but focused on his career as a bee specialist and consultant to other beekeepers and government science ministries. A demanding high school curriculum gave Hossein the 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 received his diploma at the age of 22 and spent the following two years furthering his knowledge and building his business.
In 1996 Hossein began a compulsory two-year deployment in the army. Science ministries deemed Hossein’s knowledge vital to the agricultural economy in Iran and, as a result, Hossein was granted special leaves from service. During his military service, he wrote four papers for Apimondia 1997 and was recognized by the Iranian Government as one of the top experts in apiculture. Hossein received an invitation to the Tenth Kharazmi International Festival to “honour the great efforts and endeavors made by paramount Iranian and foreign researchers, inventors and innovators.”
In 1999 Hossein returned to 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. Hossein’s associates were unable to make the conference and he travelled to Canada alone. The language barrier did not stop Hossein from communicating his ideas, and a chance meeting with Iranian-speaking businessmen helped him understand the opportunities available to him in Canada.
In March of 2000 Hossein met a beekeeper with 45 hives infected with AFB disease who agreed to let Hossein 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 40 hives again and found no diseased cells. The hives were divided and increased to 250 strong colonies. In the fall, Hossein attended 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 produced his first Caspian Solution in Canada and began working with the Ministry of Agriculture. Beekeepers in the Fraser Valley were skeptical about Hossein’s methods. Hossein traded disease-free hives for those with AFB and eliminated the disease in the hive. Hossein met Jean Marc Le Dorse and began working with him using Caspian Solution to control diseases and increase populations. Hossein observed that poor-quality queens from Australia and Canada were causing issues for Canadian beekeepers. That same year Hossein had six presentations accepted for Apimondia 2001 in Durban.
By 2002, Hossein was a prominent member of the beekeeping community. Beekeepers and large commercial operations became regular Caspian Solution customers. Hossein also created 1,000 colonies from 100 colonies. Hossein’s passion for bees and desire to help beekeepers succeed has contributed to the success of Caspian Solution. Sales of Caspian Solution continue to increase as Hossein builds a research and business team in Canada comparable to the one in Iran.