Bee Local spreads the buzz about the role of bees
By Gretchen Holzgang, Contributing Writer
Damian Magista launched Bee Local in January and has plans bring hyper-local honey to more cities this year.
Bee Local, the Portland-based company that cultivates and sells neighborhood-specific honey, is working hard to spread the buzz about local bees and honey.
When Bee Local owner Damian Magista’s neighbor got him a hive of Apis Mellifera —that’s honey bees for the non-Latin speakers — in 2006, he was immediately hooked. His first frames of honey were small, but unlike anything Magista had tasted before.
Honey, much like wine grapes, will take on its own terroir, producing a flavor profile that reflects the area the bees are located. Honey harvested from urban bees, which have access to a wide variety of flowers, has a much more complex taste than mass-produced honey harvested from mono-crop bees.
“One of the most exciting aspects of Bee Local is seeing someone’s reaction when they taste the difference in flavors between the neighborhoods and begin to understand that their flowers contributed to it,” said Magista. “Through tasting honey, people start putting the pieces together and eventually see how interconnected we are with our surroundings.”
Magista started producing neighborhood-specific honey by convincing his friends to let him move his hive between their properties. With his own investment, which was later supplemented with funds from a $5,000 Kickstarter campaign, he officially launched Bee Local in January.
Today, Bee Local honey can be bought in stores throughout Portland — including Pastaworks and The Woodsmen Market — and found in the popular Salt & Straw ice cream. The company has grown to manage some 18 to 20 hives and produced an estimated 500 pounds of honey. Magista expects to double production next year.
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