You Can Buy TwoHoneys Honey at Coffee Please

 

Coffee Please in Madeira, OH

This is my coffee shop. I stop in here almost every morning at 5:30am. And again at 7:15am. Sometimes for lunch. Sometimes for an afternoon cappuccino. The people who work there are my friends. As are many of the regulars who love Coffee Please, too.

Coffee Please is currently the only public place to buy your local TwoHoneys honey. Go there. Buy honey. Enjoy a cappuccino. Look for me.

 

 

The Glory of Single-Hive Honey

What makes TwoHoneys honey different from almost any (even any local) honey you can find? The answer, dear Reader, is single-hive honey. Let me explain.

  1. When you purchase your honey from the grocery store, you’re probably buying honey shipped in from other countries. That honey is combined with all the other honeys and heated and filtered beyond description in huge vats. Then it’s filtered again and bottled and shipped again and again and again and yada yada you eventually you eat it. And it all tastes the same. And all the good stuff is long gone. The end.
  2. When you purchase your honey from a local beekeeper (and this is indeed a wonderful first step!), you’re purchasing honey gathered from trees and flowers in your own neighborhood. This is healthy and excellent. However, it’s probably NOT single-hive honey. The beekeeper from whom you buy your local honey probably combines all of the frames from many of the hives and runs them all together through a machine we call an “extractor.” This extractor acts as a centrifuge and slings all the honey from all those frames into a common tub. Then, your local beekeeper bottles all that combined honey in jars. You buy it and eat it. But all the honey from all the frames is all combined, so it loses much of its distinct flavor.
  3. When you purchase TwoHoneys honey (you can get some at Coffee Please in Madeira!), you experience the glory of single-hive (and, frankly, it’s really single-frame) honey. In other words, I cut the honey-containing comb from its frame or bar, and I squeeze that honeycomb with a machine called my hand so that the honey from a single frame runs directly through a sieve and into a small bowl. I then immediately pour that honey into a jar. It’s that simple, pure honey that you eat and marvel about.

This is what makes single-frame honey unique: The honey in each frame tastes like whatever was blooming when the bees stored it. For instance, if goldenrod and asters were blooming when the bees stored nectar in that particular frame, then the honey harvested with that frame will taste like goldenrod or aster. Each frame tastes unique to whatever was blooming. The TwoHoneys honey you purchase tastes unique to whatever was blooming where that hive lives that season that year. It’s always a wonderful experience because YOU CAN TASTE THE DIFFERENCE.

We can’t always identify the flower we taste in the honey, but we can certainly taste the uniqueness.

And, like wine, the honey from that hive this year will taste different from the honey from that hive next year. Because the weather differs and different flowers bloom in different strengths. This year, clover bloomed for a long long time. And Queen Anne’s Lace was prolific in the wild countrysides. And right now, the goldenrod is yellowing the universe. So, the early honey we bottled tastes like clover. The mid-season honey like Queen Anne’s Lace, and the dark fall honey like deep-yellow goldenrod. And, Reader, these flowers taste different. And you can experience it.

 

Clover
Queen Anne's Lace
Goldenrod

 

 

 

Local TwoHoneys Honey—Now at Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop

Reader, I know you love your coffee. I know you love your coffee in quirky little local coffee shops. And when you drink your wonderful drinks there, you like to add a small bit of local honey to your cup.

I’m here to introduce you to Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop, which is where I often go when I want to write and daydream. Redtree is filled to the brim with local art, which makes it a delightful place to wander. What’s more, Redtree and Brazee Street Studios—the beautiful art studio surrounded by native Ohio prairie flowers and where TwoHoneys maintains a number of beehives—are neighbors. Close neighbors. And now Redtree offers our very own TwoHoneys Bee Co honey…local honey collected by the bees that fly in the neighborhood in which you drink your coffee. And that, my friends, is seriously¬†local.

Go there. Add some honey to your day.

Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop

 

 

 

 

 

Facing my Fears: Time to Rear my own Queen Bees

My first batch of queen cells

Reader, I think I’m on to something around here.

Let me tell you what’s been brewing and what I’m doing about it.

As you probably already know, the honeybees are having a rough go of it these past years. People ask me everyday what factors I believe have continued to cause the overall decline of the honeybees—and I have my ideas, though I’ll share those with you in another post.

As a result of the honeybee decline, many of our managed Ohio hives died this past winter…I lost a high high high percentage of my hives. And when it comes time to replace those lost hives, lots of people purchase 3-pound packages of bees and a queen. These packages arrive in Ohio mid April from southern states…states that, because of their more temperate winter weather, can get a good jump on building their hives and queens for shipment earlier in the season. If we in the Midwest or in the North receive our bees from southern states, we can get our new hives established more quickly.

I’ve ordered many packages of bees these past few years…both for myself and for others who then purchase these bees from me. And I’m very grateful to our southern beekeepers who have continued to supply us.

However (and I am not complaining here), it would take a numbskull not to notice that these packaged bees and the queens that arrive with them limp along for a long time once we hive them. The queens often fail completely and immediately. Either the hive goes queenless or the colony very quickly supercedes the queen. So the hive either fails completely or it crawls along, using resources from our other hives in order to develop its new queen, and then waiting a month or so for that new queen to emerge, mate, and begin laying. Very few of these hives develop with the vigor we expect from a happy, healthy, robust colony. Honeybees are generally enthusiastic, friends…they don’t naturally drag around.

And then, after nurturing a slow, weak hive all season, the colony often simply gives up the ghost over the winter…which is all very frustrating and expensive. So what do we do? We then order another package the following spring. To me, this cycle feels more and more as if I’m chasing good money after bad. Over and over and over again.

This spring, more of my packages failed than ever. And I’ve decided not to climb back on that treadmill.

Fortunately, it’s tough to dampen hope. So rather than give it all up, I’ve become resourceful. This season, I’ve begun to rear my very own queens.

I’m convinced, Reader, that we Ohio beekeepers can rear our own healthy queens…proven queens from genetics that have already survived our Midwest winters…queens that can rear worker bees genetically adapted to forage midwestern flora. And if I rear my own queens, I will not churn them out for massive shipments…which means I can give the hives the resources necessary to rear strong and healthy queens. It’s all in the resources, folks…rearing queens requires strong bees, honey, and pollen…and a knowledgable beekeeper who is doggedly determined to run a sustainable operation. And that beekeeper happens to be me.