A Yorba Linda honey producer that started as a beehive rescue effort is reaping the rewards of its kindness to bees with raw honey now found on shelves around Orange County.
Massey Honey Co. started as manager Ryan Smith’s beekeeping hobby. But within half a year it had sprouted into a business venture. Now, honey from the group’s 100-plus hives is used by local chefs, bartenders, ice cream makers, baristas and more – and it’s also in stores around the county and in other states.
Smith said everything started with his first hive. Once people found out he was a beekeeper, he started getting requests to rescue hives that would otherwise be exterminated.
A majority of Massey Honey’s product still comes from rescue efforts – between saving the hives and relocating them to permanent homes, Massey Honey is thanked by its rescues with raw honey, straight from the comb to the jar.
“Honey you find on the shelf has a nice color, it’s nice and liquefied – but the reason it’s like that is because it’s been filtered and heated to a point that kills a lot of the natural enzymes,” Smith said.
Getting honey from bees takes time – most rescued hives won’t produce honey for about a year, but building that rapport with the bees pays off in spades, Smith said.
But he’s mindful of keeping the hives happy, particularly at a time when bees’ survival is in such a precarious state, Smith said.
“They’re in a bit of a rough spot. I’m trying to do everything as sustainable as possible. If I can, I’ll try to relocate the hive, and I keep everything as all-natural as possible,” Smith said. “Put the bees first, and eventually you’ll reap the benefits of the honey later on.”
Massey Honey’s products, which include seasonal flavors such as blackberry, raspberry and sage, can be found online at masseyhoney.com or in local retailers, including Mothers Market and a range of independent retailers around California and in other states.