We'll never forget the first taste of honey from our own hive.
It was June, about 15 years ago, and we lived on the coast of North Carolina.
A seasoned beekeeper, Mr. Smith, had shown us the ins and outs of keeping bees, and he was there for the first taste.
He dipped his dirty, calloused finger in the comb and brought it to his mouth, then smacked his lips a little.
“Ain’t nothin’ but hedge honey,” he said.
Not sure whether to be offended or not, we tasted it too.
It was good.
We felt lucky.
Turns out, what Mr. Smith meant was that the honey wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t an exotic, single-source honey, such as the popular orange blossom, tupelo or sourwood honeys.
It was honey made by bees that had been foraging through suburbia and feasting on things like hollies and red tips, which both produce copious amounts of nectar. Add to that the nectar from a neighbor’s herb gardens, some swamp magnolia and spring maple, and it was delicious.
After selling our honey at farmers markets for several years, in North Carolina and Tennessee, we like to think the “hedge honey” was the inspiration for what we still do.
Our honey might be a little “fancy” now since we’re obsessed with packaging, but we still maintain our initial fascination with bees and our commitment to quality and taste. Since working with Mr. Smith we’ve ventured into making a couple of organic beeswax products and have enjoyed tinkering with creamed, or “whipped,” honey.
Still, our honey is raw, unpasteurized and just like the bees made it.
In fact, since honeybees fly up to three miles from their hives to forage, it might have a little bit of “hedge” in it.
But only if you’re lucky.