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The Carmel Honey Company

You think you know honey.

But, honey, you don't. That's what I learned when 14 year old beekeeper and accidental entrepreneur Jake Reisdorf walked in the room to explain his business - and mission - of responsibly raising bees and harvesting honey in Carmel, California.

Presenting to a small group of creatives tucked away at the casual Hofsas House Hotel, Jake passionately and succinctly explained how he got into the honey biz. As part of a school project where kids had to select from a list of potential career choices, he chose web designer. With some help from his dad, they bought a domain from GoDaddy, and built a simple site. But, a website needs content right? So he decided to buy a bee hive and write about that.

Three years later, the Carmel Honey Company is a thriving business with about 125 hives and plans to expand. Jake spends much of his free time working on the business and traveling locally to discuss the environmental impact of the dwindling honeybee population, what their survival means to the larger ecosystem, and extolling the virtues of its never ending uses and health benefits. Of course, there is also experimenting with new varietals, coming up with interesting recipes and attending foodie festivals like the recent Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Not bad for a teenager.

Since his personal apiary is outgrowing his family's property, he now offers hive placement services where his team will "install" a hive on your property, provide regular care and maintenance, and when it's time to harvest - split the honey with the property owner 50/50.

No bees, no food, no people.

Despite our impulse to wave bees away at the beach or around the picnic table, they are integral part of our community. What most people don't know:

  • California becomes the largest beekeeper in the world during the revolving harvest season, starting in February with almonds and moving along to berries and other crops as we head into summer. 
  • One of out every three bites of food we consume has been pollinated by bees.
  • Bees practice facial recognition via the same cognitive process as humans.
  • 75% of the honey found on your supermarket shelf is FAKE.
  • "Srubbing honey" is the process whereby most of the pollen from honey is removed and the actual honey is diluted with corn syrup and a variety of other unnatural (and harmful) fillers. This practice is popular in China where are there are almost no regulations. The USFDA only tests approximately 25% of honey, so there is a very good chance that if/when purchasing inexpensive supermarket honey, you are getting very little of the golden goods and a lot of corn syrup and chemicals. Yum. To avoid consuming the concocted version, buy local at farmer's markets or from trusted suppliers.

In 2014, President Obama, acknowledging the critical state of bee colony health, ordered the creation of a national strategy "to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators." The goal is to reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within a decade. To get a better sense of the bigger picture, you can read the entire Los Angeles Times' story, How the Honeybee Crisis is Affecting California's Growers.

During our visit with Jake, we sampled the Orange Blossom, Sage and Meadowfoam flavors. The reactions to each were different, but equally spectacular. If you're used to eating the supermarket syrup, prepare to be blown away. Everything from the flavor to texture is different. Also, pure honey never spoils, so, if stored correctly, you could conceivably eat out of the same jar for your entire lifetime. Pretty cool, right?

If you'd like to try 'the best honey in the world,' or support his non-profit, Jake Gives Back, you can visit their website and online shop. The Carmel Honey Company also supplies select, local stores in and around Carmel.

Sage honey from the Carmel Honey Company

Sage honey from the Carmel Honey Company

Without bees, there can be no almonds. In fact, each of California’s nearly 1 million acres of almond orchards requires two hives. But California beekeepers have only a quarter of the needed hives.
— Los Angeles Times