Many of our customers tell us we have the best honey they’ve ever tasted. Many of you may like our honey from trying a sample at a farmer’s market or from interacting with us during a swarm relocation. You may not know how special our honey truly is. We believe that our honey is not only the best tasting, but that we put more attention and care into the production of our honey than any other honey producer in Texas.
As we approach the first significant harvest of the 2016 honey season, we want to share the reasons why our honey is special. Each day, we’ll add a reason why our honey is special, until we’re ready to sell honey at a farmer’s market or at one of our partner sites.
Day 1: Our honey is special because we are beekeepers.
Believe it or not, some folks selling honey don’t actually have bees. They buy buckets or drums full of honey from a commodity distributor and fill bottles. They can’t tell you how old that honey is, where it came from, whether it has been chemically treated, or whether it truly is pure honey. At BZ Honey, we take care of our bees so they’ll provide us with the honey we bottle and sell to you. We check each hive every week to ensure its health, control swarms, and to maximize colony growth. It’s a simple model, but by working with our bees, we can tell you anything you need to know about our honey.
We started as backyard beekeepers and kept increasing our hive count because we love what we do. This is our special calling, to provide pure, local honey to the NW Harris County communities.
Day 2: We manage our own hives.
We continue to grow, but we’re still able to personally manage all our hives. We inspect each hive every 7-10 days during the swarm season to ensure our colonies have room to grow to keep them from swarming. We also ensure that each hive has a healthy queen to lay eggs and determine when we can harvest honey. Sure, the protective gear gets hot, we take an occasional sting, and the boxes get heavy, but this is how we ensure the health and check the status of each of our colonies. One day, we may have enough hives that we need to hire additional beekeepers, but today every bee is cared for by a member of the BZ family.
Day 3: Our bees spend the entire year in NW Harris County.
We may deliver an occasional hive to a customer for backyard pollination, but our bees are truly stationary hives. We don’t truck our bees across the country for almond pollination or across the state chasing nectar flows. We put our hives into one of our managed yards and we let them create honey from the nectar produced in a 3 mile radius of that yard. We think this keeps our bees healthy and allows us to deliver truly local honey to our customers. You can actually see and taste the difference in the honey produced by our hives in Spring, Summer, and Fall. We don’t know of any other beekeepers in our area who celebrate the uniqueness of their honey as much as we do. If you still have some dark, Fall honey left over from last year, feel free to finish it off. We have some sweet, light, Spring honey coming to market soon!
Day 4: We don’t put any chemicals in our hives.
Apivar, Apistan, Thymol, MAQS, Oxalic Acid, Fumigilin. This is a list of some of the chemicals that beekeepers put in their hives to control pests. Since beeswax and honey both readily absorb compounds from their environment, we just don’t understand how beekeepers can harvest and sell honey from hives laden with these chemicals. “Here you go ma’am, nature’s original sweetener with a small dose of Apistan.” No, thank you. Our honey is special because we are part of the minority of beekeepers who refuse to use chemicals to treat our hives. Before we even received our first colony, we made a decision to keep our bees and our honey chemical-free. We use sound hive management practices and a focused queen rearing program to allow our bees to manage pests on their own. Every one of this year’s production hives survived winter without treatments and is thriving and healthy, producing surplus honey we’ll bring to market soon.
Day 5: We relocate wild swarms to our managed yards.
We love being able to catch a swarm of bees before they decide to make their home in the eaves or wall of someone’s house. In addition to providing a good service in our community, we put these swarms in our managed yards and use their desire to build comb to grow a new colony. Since swarms are typically led by the old queen from a successful hive, adding these swarms to our yards provides a new genetic line of bees that have survived the fall mite onslaught and winter. We use these colonies to provide drones for open mating with our queens and will breed queens from exceptional colonies. Our honey is special because we encourage a diverse genetic mix of colonies in each of our yards to counter threats from pests.
Day 6: We partner with bee-friendly businesses to host our hives.
To ensure our bees are positioned to maximize nectar forage from certain areas and to provide “neighborhood” honey to local customers, we partner with bee-friendly businesses in NW Harris County. Plants for All Seasons and The Arbor Gate, two of the Houston area’s premier nursery and garden centers, serve as a reminder that homeowners can have beautiful gardens without resorting to harsh pesticides. We maintain approximately 20 hives at each location. These bee thrive off the many varieties of flowering plants at the nurseries and the forage surrounding these locations. Last year, we expanded this model and have positioned hives at Jane and John Dough Bakery, Verdant Tree Farm on Barker-Cypress, and at the Tomball Community Garden at Tomball United Methodist Church. Without the cooperation of these bee-friendly sites, we would be unable provide such a wide variety of honey.
Day 7: We celebrate the diversity of our honey harvests.
Most commercial beekeepers blend the harvests from multiple yards and multiple seasons to produce a honey that is a consistent color and flavor. We think consistent color and flavor destroys what makes our local honey special. When we harvest honey from a particular yard, we extract and bottle that honey separately from any other harvests. We specify the yard of origin on each bottle of honey we fill. If you buy honey that’s labeled “Tomball, TX”, then that bottle only contains honey made from the nectar in a 3 mile radius around our bee yard in Tomball. It may look and taste different than the honey from our Cypress yard or our partner yards. It may also look and taste different than honey from our Tomball yard harvested on a different date. Typically, our Spring honey is our lightest color and flavor, with the color getting darker and the taste more robust as the year progresses to Fall. Each variation is useful and tasty in its own way, so don’t be afraid to have several bottles in your pantry.
Day 8: Our honey is fresh.
We extract honey from our hives as soon as the bees cap the honey cells on the frames. You can see the changes in color during the year as different flowers begin blooming. In late May or early June, we begin our season with honey produced from clover and tallow flowers, producing a very light, sweet honey. Over the course of the summer and into early fall, the seasonal flowers will produce honey with a darker color and more robust flavor until we harvest the dark goldenrod honey in late fall. We often tell you something like, “this honey was still in the hive last Wednesday”, but if we don’t, feel free to ask us. We’ll know and we’ll tell you. That makes our honey special.
Day 9: We sell pure, raw honey.
We don’t mess with our honey! We don’t add anything to it. Our bees have done a great job with their recipe, so we don’t need to alter it in any way. We also don’t ever heat our honey. Raw honey has very delicate floral aromas and enzymes which heat destroys. We take our honey from the hives and bottle it, just the way it is.