Spring Honeybee Packages and Nucleus Hives For Sale

For the first time in Old Blue history, we will be selling honeybee colonies to the wider public this spring. If you've been considering getting one or more hives, now is the time to preorder your bees.

Here's our schedule and offerings (click the link for pricing and details):

(April 1) 5-Frame Nuc with Anarchy Apiaries Queen or Overwintered Old Blue Queen
(April 15) 3-Pound Package with California-Mated Old Blue Queen
(April 29) 5-Frame Nuc with California-Mated Old Blue Queen
(May 13) 5-Frame Nuc with Oregon-Mated Old Blue Queen
(May 13 or May 27) 3-Pound Package with Oregon-Mated Old Blue Queen

Honeybees will only be available for pick up 8 am to 11 am on the assigned date at Old Blue Raw Honey headquarters at 23990 Gellatly Way just west of Philomath, OR. Colonies must be preordered online and paid for in full before the pick up date. If you order one of these nucs or packages, you are committing to picking it up on that day with no exceptions. Bees unclaimed after 11 am may be sold to customers on our waiting list. Customers who don't pick up their bees will not receive any refunds.

We will also be doing honey tasting in our tasting room during bee pick up hours.

Nucleus hives are composed of a frame of honey, a frame of pollen, three frames of brood, five frames of bees, and a mated queen in a Jester EZ Nuc box. Packages are three pounds of honeybees and a mated Old Blue queen.

The selection process for Old Blue queens is complicated and subjective, but a few traits we specifically look for are varroa-sensitive hygienic behavior (for surviving unavoidable varroa mite parasitism), ability to fly in cool temperatures and adverse weather conditions (for bringing in nectar and pollen resources as a food source for the colony as well as surplus for human harvest), strong spring buildup of population, wing power (for foraging longer distances), and a resistance to brood diseases. You can learn more about how we raise our own queens here.

Although it is possible to maintain treatment-free bee colonies, and these honeybees have been bred for mite and disease resistance, hives will be more likely to survive with regular management and recommended mite treatments. Beekeeping is more complicated and more challenging every year, and even if you do your best with current information and recommendations, hives may still fail at fairly high rates.

We will do our best to provide customers with healthy, thriving bee colonies, but after they leave the premises of Old Blue, they are 100% your responsibility, and we assume no liability for any possible problems or failures. It is important to transport bees in a timely manner with plenty of airflow to their final location (preferably within an hour).

If you are seriously allergic to bee stings, you probably should not come to these events. You are unlikely to get stung while here, but for obvious reasons, there are more bees than average around the premises.

Old Blue is selling hives this year, but we are not offering any beekeeping classes or beekeeping consultation services at this time. Our supply is limited, so we recommend ordering early. If our website shows we are sold out of the type of nuc or package that you are interested in, email oldbluerawhoney@gmail.com to be put on our waitlist.

For recommended reading and resources, see our Old Blue FAQ page (scroll down toward the bottom).

Read more →

Winter Honey Sampler

Our Winter Honey Samplers will begin shipping December 15. You can find our Winter Honey Samplers for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Nashville : Dewberry & Meadowfoam

Nashville, Oregon is located in eastern Lincoln County along the upper Yaquina River, known for its scenic waterfalls and prolific salmon runs. The small, Coast Range town site was named after railroad promoter Wallis Nash who lived in the area for decades until his death in 1926. 

Our apiary is situated at the Harmsen family’s historic mill site that until recently processed fir and cedar logs from the surrounding area. The Upper Yaquina Valley is mainly private timber land with pasture, hay production ground, and hedgerows. The ecology of the area is pretty standard for the Oregon Coast Range with abundant scotch broom, wild blackberries, and clear-cut weeds along with native species such as chittum and vine maple. 

Prior to moving into the Nashville apiary, the hives that produced this honey were placed in Tangent, OR in a turnip seed field. As the turnip bloom was slowing down, an adjacent meadowfoam field began to bloom. The hives remained in place for about a week with bees foraging for meadowfoam nectar before we transported them with honey supers in place out to Nashville. The bees backfilled the honeycomb with dewberry nectar, creating a naturally blended honey from two locations and two nectar species.

Dewberry (Rubus ursinus), also knows as trailing blackberry or trip briar, is a low-growing native blackberry that produces edible fruits later in the summer. The dewberry bloom is one of the principle spring nectar flows for bees in the Pacific Northwest.

Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba Benth.) is a low, almost succulent-like plant native to Oregon and California that naturally grows in vernal pools. If you’ve ever driven through the Willamette Valley in late spring, you’ve probably noticed blindingly white fields of meadowfoam in bloom. Nearly all commercially produced meadowfoam seed is grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. After the seed is harvested in early summer, it is pressed into an oil that is mostly used in cosmetics. 

Even though, by volume, this honey is made mostly of mild-tasting dewberry nectar, the meadowfoam nectar has a stronger flavor and shines through with it’s typical vanilla notes. 

Harris : Wild Blackberry

This apiary is located near the Marys River upstream from the Harris Covered Bridge between the community of Harris and the town of Blodgett. The Harris Covered Bridge opened in 1936 and continues to this day as a functional and scenic landmark. Harris Road is a popular bike route, and nearby Harris Bridge Vineyard brings a lot of visitors out to the area.

Our apiary is on the eastern edge of the Oregon Coast Range, so it’s in more of an oak-fir mixed woodland as opposed to our more western locations that are fir-, alder-, and hemlock-dominant. The spot also has a significant population of snowberry, knapweed, poison-oak, and minor wildflowers. 

Himalayan backberry (Rubus bifrons) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

This honey has a clean, bright, fruity flavor. 

Kiger Island : Parsley & Mint

Our Kiger Island apiary is located on an island in the Willamette River just south of Corvallis, Oregon. Kiger Island is locally renown for its fertile soil and agricultural productivity. Several family farms have been located in the area for generations, growing a variety of specialty crops including ginseng, kiwis, hazelnuts, grain, pumpkins, blueberries, alfalfa, mint, grass seed, and vegetable seed.

The Funke family are farmers in the Willamette Valley that produce essential oils from clary sage, chamomile, parsley, peppermint, and other plants. This parsley crop and the peppermint were grown for distillation, but the plants were allowed to bloom to reach maximum oil content before harvesting. The parsley and mint fields were adjacent to the earlier-blooming clary sage field where we produced our clary sage honey.

Blooming parsley supports a wide array of pollinators and beneficial insects. Letting it go to flower in your home garden can provide a good opportunity for insect observation. 

Peppermint is traditional Willamette Valley crop. Both parsley and mint are late-blooming crops that offer abundant nectar to bees in the Valley. 

This honey is rich with a hint of chocolate and herbal notes.

Read more →

Manny Arechiga’s Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

We have a rad new mural on the honey house at Old Blue Raw Honey painted by artist Manny Arechiga, and we could not be more pleased with how it turned out. Manny is a friend who has been helping us out with beekeeping and honey extraction since early June, but last week he used a different set of talents to transform our shop door into a work of art. Manny is a California native who’s worked for a few different beekeeping operations the last five years or so, but (obviously) his true calling is in painting and drawing.

Manny and I had a couple conversations and looked through some photos together before he began painting, but all the mural artwork was done free-hand without any prior sketches on paper or on the shop door. As someone entirely non-gifted in the visual arts, it was pretty awe-inspiring to watch the mural take shape from nothing over the course of about 15 hours across four days.

I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that we now have the best mural in Philomath. (Consider that more of a challenge than a brag, fellow Philomathians.) The mural is visible from Highway 34 just outside Philomath city limits, but we are also hosting several honey tastings in the near future. More details about upcoming events here.

Mural season in Oregon is coming to a close with the turn in the weather, and Manny’s headed back to California in a couple weeks, but he is taking on future commissioned art projects here, in California, and elsewhere. We’re also hoping to get some of his original art on Old Blue Raw Honey T-shirts before Christmas. If you want to talk to Manny about his muraling and artist services, get in touch with him at arechigamanny@gmail.com and/or follow him on Instagram @goawayfatman (where he has a great time-lapse video of this whole project).

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny ArechigaHoneybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Honeybee Mural at Old Blue Raw Honey by artist Manny Arechiga

Read more →

Autumn Honey Sampler

Our Autumn Honey Samplers will begin shipping September 15. You can find our Autumn Honey Samplers for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Cardwell Hill: Poison-Oak

Our Cardwell Hill apiary is located at our old home property in Wren, OR, and Henry keeps his potential breeder queen colonies there. He evaluates the hives’ mite levels and mite resistance throughout the spring. After harvesting a honey crop, the colonies with the lowest mite levels are integrated into his queen-rearing program.

The site is located at about 1,000 feet elevation in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range. In the spring, there are ample nectar and pollen resources from a diverse understory, but lack of soil moisture limits summer nectar flow, so Henry moves bees farther west as the site dries up.  

Poison-oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is one of the dominant understory species in the area and grows unsupported up to 12 feet tall or will vine up trees to at least 50 feet. Poison-oak has white, star-shaped flowers that hang in grape-like clusters. The species is so dense in this area that our hives generally produce surplus honey while the poison-oak is blooming in May if the weather permits foraging. The oils in the leaves and stems of the plant can cause dermatitis, but the bees are unaffected.

This honey has a malty, rootbeer flavor. It includes small amounts of poison-oak pollen.

Summit : Wild Blackberry & Tansy

Our Summit apiary is located at Cross Eyed Cricket Farm on the Upper Marys River near Summit, OR. Dave Barron and Melissa Bourgeois have a diversified homestead including a variety of livestock, orchards, and a vegetable garden. Our kids all go to school together at rural Blodgett Elementary established in 1850. The valley surrounding the apiary includes marshy areas in old beaver ponds and passively managed pasture including weeds that provide a lot of late summer forage for the bees. 

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus bifrons) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a non-native, broadleaf pasture weed. It is toxic to most livestock, but bees thrive on its nectar and pollen. Various entities and individuals have attempted to manage the reproduction of this invasive species for many decades. Biocontrol insects including the cinnabar moth generally keep tansy in check, but populations fluctuate year to year depending on weather conditions and seed production. 

This honey has a clean, spicy flavor with a hint of sweetgrass.

Smith Island : Pumpkin & Alfalfa

Smith Island, an island in the Willamette River just south of Corvallis, is still farmed by relatives of its namesake Green Berry Smith. The nearby community of Greenberry was also named after the same pioneer who arrived in the area in 1846. Loren Smith and his son Dan Smith grow a variety of seed and forage crops on the island including hairy vetch, red clover, orchard grass, arrowleaf clover, alfalfa, and pumpkins. 

Loren has always been very conscientious about maintaining native pollinator habitat in the riparian areas, gravel bars, and periphery of farm fields. The staggered bloom times of the various crops he grows support impressive pollinator species diversity. We brought these bees in to pollinate later-blooming pumpkins.

The pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) field was planted with an heirloom, hubbard-type “Golden Delicious” pumpkin grown for its edible seeds that are used for the snack market. The vines bloom through August, and the resulting pumpkin honey was one of the last batches we harvested in the 2016 season. Pumpkin flowers yield dark nectar, resulting in very dark honey.

The Smiths grow alfalfa (Medicago sativa) as a broadleaf rotation crop and to replenish soil nitrogen. They harvest multiple cuttings of alfalfa hay per year. Last summer had a stretch of cooler weather after the first cutting, so the plants bloomed for a longer period than they normally would allow. Leaf cutter bees are more effective than honeybees for pollinating alfalfa, but honeybees are able to gather significant nectar from the flowers. Alfalfa usually has “water white” (clear) nectar, resulting in a very light-color honey. 

This honey came from bees that had access to alfalfa as well as the later pumpkin bloom. The result is a milder flavor with some of the funky tartness of varietal pumpkin honey.

This honey is somewhat thicker and lower moisture than your average honey. Normally, Henry harvest frames of honey in the field and then stashes them in our “hot room” (basically the opposite of a cooler kept at about 105°) until Camille is ready to extract within a few days. The honey is liquid and flows more readily out of the comb if it is nice and warm at extraction time. As our lives got really busy late last summer, a couple batches of honey stayed in the hot room before extraction longer than they probably should have, dehydrating to a degree and producing a thicker, more concentrated honey that many people really love.

Read more →

Summer Honey Sampler

Brassica hives

Our Summer Honey Samplers will begin shipping June 15. You can find our Summer Honey Samplers for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Peoria : Brassica

Peoria, OR is located between Corvallis and Harrisburg on Highway 99 E along the Willamette River.  It’s more of a community than a full-blown town at this time, but in the late 1800s is was a farming hub with many large-scale grain warehouses.

Brassica fields are hospitable apiary locations with abundant, high-quality forage for bees in the early spring. The hives tend to thrive on brassica fields, storing honey and growing in population. Brassica fields are showy and stunningly photogenic with their acres of bright yellow blossoms.

This honey comes from both turnip and canola (Brassica napus) nectar. Turnips and canola are the same species and have nearly identical nectar character. In the Willamette Valley, turnips are grown for vegetable seed, and this crop was farmed by Cody Younger, Henry’s friend from college. Non-GMO canola is grown for biodiesel production, and this crop was grown by Tyler Rohner. In 2008, Willamette Biomass Processors Inc. opened a biodiesel production facility in Rickreall, OR that contracts with local farmers like Tyler to grow canola and camelina (another brassica) for biofuel.

Brassica honey is notorious for crystallizing extremely quickly. Buckets of honey that we harvested just in late May are already completely solid in storage. You can either eat the honey crystallized, or warm it up in a water bath until it’s liquid again. 

Brassica honey has a mild, earthy pepper and dried tobacco flavor.

Cannon Quarry : Wild Blackberry

Our Cannon Quarry apiary is located in an old shipyard on the Yaquina River about a mile upriver from Toledo, OR. In recent history, fishing boats have docked there, but in the past, it was used for storing log rafts. The site is owned by the Steenkolk family who’s been in the area for multiple generations. Bob Steenkolk, the current owner, was one of the last tugboat drivers to move log rafts on the Yaquina. We use this apiary at the end of the honey-producing season when we move in hives that have completed earlier pollination contracts in the Willamette Valley. It sits at the upper end of the tidelands with just enough inland warmth to make some surplus honey.

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus bifrons) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

This honey has the classic coastal blackberry characteristics with bright clean flavor and a lingering spicy finish.

Logsden : Late Wildflower

The small town of Logsden, Oregon is located in the central Oregon Coast Range along the upper Siletz River. Our Logsden apiary lies at the confluence of Mill Creek and the Siletz River surrounded by small farms, pasture land, and timberland. Spring nectar sources in the area include bigleaf maple, vine maple, bitter cherry, dewberry, and chittum.

The site gets enough inland heat to make a good, consistent honey crop, but it also dries out earlier than some of our other Coast Range apiaries. This season, however, we had enough late moisture for the clearcut weeds to produce a lot of nectar through the end of August. In addition to a lot of groundsel nectar, this honey probably includes thistle, St. John’s wort, and lotus (bird’s-foot trefoil) nectar from plants growing in recently logged areas. Our winter sampler included an earlier harvest of honey in this location, but this batch is from after the main-season (wild blackberry) nectar flow had ended.

This honey has a more intense tangy, dried fruit flavor than the main season Logsden honey. It also crystalizes more readily due to the higher pollen content.

Read more →

Spring Honey Sampler

Our Spring Honey Samplers will begin shipping March 15. You can find our Spring Honey Samplers for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Wolf Creek : Vine Maple & Dewberry

Our Wolf Creek apiary is located near the confluence of the Big Elk River and Wolf Creek downriver from Harlan, Oregon. The Wolf Creek area was one of the last areas in Oregon to have extant wolf populations until the 1920s. 

The site is across the river from a large patch of bigleaf maple trees and abundant spring forage plants including vine maple, dewberry, and chittum. 

We harvested honey from the hives in this apiary three times between late April and late August. This varietal comes from the middle harvest in June. We have an earlier, stronger-flavored bigleaf maple honey available on our website.

Vine maple (Acer circinatum) is a large, native shrub that can form impenetrable thickets. It blooms in late April to early May with small, red flowers. Often wet Oregon spring weather prevents bees from producing an abundant vine maple honey crop, but the flowers are a good nectar and pollen source if bees can fly to access them.

Dewberry (Rubus ursinus), also knows as trailing blackberry or trip briar, is a low-growing native blackberry that produces edible fruits later in the summer. The dewberry bloom is one of the principle spring nectar flows for bees in the Pacific Northwest.

The Old Blue beehives kept in the Wolf Creek apiary are all queen breeder colonies. These treatment-free hives have been selected for multiple characteristics including disease resistance, wintering ability, and honey production.

This honey is bright and herbaceous with a medicinal aroma. 

 

Wolf Creek : Wild Blackberry

This honey varietal is the last harvest from the hives in the Wolf Creek apiary (see above). The main component in this honey is wild blackberry nectar, but other pasture weeds were blooming during honey production including trefoil, lotus, clover, tansy, and several species of thistle.

Himalayan backberry (Rubus bifrons) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

We thought it might be interesting to include two honeys from the same hives in one sampler so that you could taste the difference between nectar flows from the same location.

The honey has a mild, dried fruit flavor with a little spice note. 

 

Shedd : Coriander

We found this quote in Urban Dictionary useful for explaining the context of Shedd, Oregon. “No, I don’t live in a shed. I live in Shedd. Shedd, Oregon. It’s five miles north and six miles south of those other two towns you’ve never heard of.” Those other two towns are Tangent to the north and Halsey to the south. Shedd was actually named after a Civil War veteran who donated land for a railroad station. The Shedd Cafe makes a pretty darn good lunch if you’re ever passing through. Just to the east of Shedd, you can still visit the oldest continuously operating, water-powered mill in Oregon. It’s now a state park, Thompson Mills State Heritage Site. 

Farmer Cody Younger, a classmate of Henry’s at OSU, rotates vegetable seed, oilseed, and cover crops through his grass seed fields. This was Cody’s second year growing coriander as a rotation crop, and it performed well on the site. 

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is the seed of the cilantro plant, a widely used culinary herb. The flowers provide easily accessed nectar and pollen resources for honeybees and other native bees. Flowering cilantro in a home garden makes for a good opportunity to observe a diverse array of pollinators. 

The coriander honey has a floral flavor reminiscent of the smell of Queen Anne’s lace flowers and a lingering buttery finish. It has been very popular at tasting events in the last year. This year’s coriander honey is more quick to crystallize than other honeys. If/when it sets up, you can either eat it crystallized or heat it slowly in a warm water bath until it’s liquid again.

Read more →

Winter Honey Sampler

Our Winter Honey Samplers will begin shipping December 15. You can find our Winter Honey Samplers for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Smith Island : Red Clover & Hairy Vetch

Smith Island, an island in the Willamette River just south of Corvallis, is still farmed by relatives of its namesake Green Berry Smith. The nearby community of Greenberry was also named after the same pioneer who arrived in the area in 1846. Loren Smith and his son Dan Smith grow a variety of seed and forage crops on the island including hairy vetch, red clover, orchard grass, arrowleaf clover, alfalfa, and pumpkins. 

Loren has always been very conscientious about maintaining native pollinator habitat in the riparian areas, gravel bars, and periphery of farm fields. The staggered bloom times of the various crops he grows support impressive pollinator species diversity. We brought these bees in early to forage on the hairy vetch, but their main job was to pollinate later-blooming pumpkins.

Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) is grown as a forage or cover crop. It’s a great nitrogen fixer, and it flowers prolifically over a long span of summer with small purple blooms. It used to be widely grown in the Willamette Valley but is fairly uncommon now. Its nectar makes a “water white” (colorless, clear) honey.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a pink-flowered clover used as a forage or cover crop. It is notable in the Willamette Valley for attracting a lot of bumblebees. Red clover has a deep flower, so only honeybees with particularly long tongues can access the nectar. While most of our hives made some honey on nearby hairy vetch, only a few hives made surplus honey from red clover nectar.  

The honey tastes of sweetgrass hay and walnuts.

Orleans: Meadowfoam

Orleans, OR, situated between Corvallis and Albany, is more of a crossroads than a full-fledged town. Apparently it used to be an important steamboat stop in the Willamette Valley but was destroyed in the flood of 1861, which also moved the main course of the Willamette River to the west. Orleans was never rebuilt, and only the Orleans cemetery and a church remain there today. 

Our Orleans apiary is on ground farmed by Lee Gilmour, a young farmer whom Henry met through his volunteer work as a director of the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District. The site has reasonably well drained but moist soil, and this year, it grew a great meadowfoam seed crop.

Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba Benth.) is a low, almost succulent-like plant native to Oregon and California that naturally grows in vernal pools. If you’ve ever driven through the Willamette Valley in May, you’ve probably noticed blindingly white fields of meadowfoam in bloom. Nearly all commercially produced meadowfoam seed is grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. After the seed is harvested in early summer, it is pressed into an oil that is mostly used in cosmetics. 

Meadowfoam honey is widely known for its strong vanilla and/or marshmallow flavors. Most commercially available meadowfoam honey is extracted after another summer nectar flow, so it can be more subdued. This honey was extracted right at the end of the meadowfoam bloom, so it has an intense vanilla and root beer flavor. 

Logsden : Wild Blackberry & Groundsel

The small town of Logsden, Oregon is located in the central Oregon Coast Range along the upper Siletz River. Our Logsden apiary lies at the confluence of Mill Creek and the Siletz River surrounded by small farms, pasture land, and timberland. Spring nectar sources in the area include bigleaf maple, vine maple, bitter cherry, dewberry, and chittum.

The site gets enough inland heat to make a good, consistent honey crop, but it also dries out earlier than some of our other Coast Range apiaries. This season, however, we had enough late moisture for the blackberries and clearcut weeds to produce a lot of nectar through the end of August. In addition to blackberry and groundsel, this honey probably includes nectar from St. John’s wort and lotus (bird’s-foot trefoil) growing in recently logged areas.

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus bifrons) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

Groundsel (Senecio sylvaticus), also known as woodland ragwort, is a clearcut weed with petal-less yellow flowers. This nectar source is likely what gives the honey its yellow color. 

This honey tastes like golden raisins with a buttery finish. 

Read more →

Autumn Honey Sampler

Our Autumn Honey Samplers will begin shipping on September 15. You can find our autumn honey sampler for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Riverside : Arugula

Our Riverside apiary is located on Stellmacher Farm along the Willamette River near Albany, OR. Bill Stellmacher grows grass seed, vegetable seed, and hazelnuts in the area but has been phasing out grass seed and planting more acreage of hazelnuts in the last few years with arugula and other vegetable seed often being a transitional crop. 

Arugula (Eruca sativa) is a popular spicy salad green. This open-pollinated arugula crop was grown for Universal Seed and will be distributed widely across the country. Brassicas in general are good nectar source plants for honeybees, and this year, we got quite a good honey yield from the field. 

This honey has a dark chocolate and tart, dried fig flavor.

Feagles Creek : Blackberry & Thistle

Our Feagles Creek apiary is in a cattle pasture near Harlan, OR. The farm, once homestead ground, is now passively managed by the Kessi family. While there’s plenty of grass for cows in the field, there’s also a lot of broadleaf plant diversity. The Kessis use goats to control weeds on other parts of the ranch, but this area is more remote with relatively large predator populations, making it unsafe for goat foraging ground. The surrounding hills are managed for timber production and wildlife habitat with both Coast Range conifers and hardwood trees.

Himalayan backberry (Rubus bifrons and Rubus vestitus) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

Canadian thistle (Cirsium arvense) is a common perennial weed in Western Oregon that persists in pastureland unless it’s sprayed. There are several effective biocontrol techniques for preventing the spread of Canadian thistle, but eradication has not been possible so far. 

The Old Blue beehives kept in the Feagles Creek apiary are all queen breeder colonies. These treatment-free hives have been selected for multiple characteristics including disease resistance, wintering ability, and honey production. One of our main breeding lines, “Kessi”, originated from a feral honeybee colony thriving in this area. 

This honey has a fresh melon taste with lingering pollen notes. 

Ona Beach : Coastal Wildflower

Our Ona Beach apiary is on the east side of Highway 101 about two miles inland from Ona Beach State Park near Seal Rock, OR. It’s located along the North Beaver Creek drainage that flows into Beaver Creek State Natural Area, a great place for kayaking. The site is a tidal marsh of various rushes and sedges along with native and non-native flowering plants including lotus (Lotus corniculatus), water parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa), smartweed (Polygonum sp.), and clover. The bees appreciate the site’s diversity of late-season pollen. 

This honey is made from the nectar of late blooming flowers, and the color is darker than many of our main season varietals. We have a very limited supply of it, only about nine gallons. It has a mild, earthy tobacco and leather flavor. 

Read more →

Honey House Construction and Honey Sale

Okay, folks, this is a call to action. We need your help.

We are now in the final stages of building a licensed and certified honey extraction facility (aka “honey house”) on our new property in Philomath, OR. Our building currently has four walls, a roof, and a concrete floor. We just got our small-batch extractor, and we’ve purchased a used stainless steel bottling tank and commercial sink. Our equipment is scaled exactly to our needs, and we’ve designed the space to be extremely energy efficient both in terms of human effort as well as electrical usage. When this building is complete, it will serve Old Blue Raw Honey and our customers for a very very long time with minimal upgrades and expenses.

The reality is that right now we are scraping the bottom of the barrel of our business and personal finances, and we’re due to be more or less out of money in just a few weeks.

We have the honey equivalent of all the funds we’ll need to finish this project, but we just need to sell it and send it out into the world. If you’ve ever considered buying honey from us, now would be a great time. Will you need a birthday/anniversary/Mothers’ Day/Fathers’ Day/graduation/teacher/thank you/housewarming/hostess gift in the near future? Do you want to invite your friends over for a varietal honey tasting flight? Have you considered joining our honey subscription programUse the coupon code “HONEYHOUSE”  at checkout for 15% off your next purchase from our online store.

Old Blue Raw Honey honeybees

What we’re doing is different from other honey companies and different from other direct-market beekeepers.

•We only sell honey from our own hives.

•We offer a wide array of interesting, small-batch varietal honeys not readily available elsewhere like poison-oakbigleaf maplecoriander, and clary sage.

•We give our customers a LOT of information about specific honey varietals as well as about our beekeeping practices more broadly. (Each bottle is labeled with the harvest date, apiary location, and primary nectar source(s). Beyond that, varietal honey listings contain extra information about apiary ecology and nectar source plant characteristics. Customers can also learn more by reading through our FAQ, checking out our blog, or following @oldbluerawhoney on Instagram. )

•We are actively preserving and improving Northwest-adapted honeybee genetics by raising and breeding our own queens and using isolated mating areas to propagate resilient, feral-based stock suitable for both migratory pollination and honey production in Oregon.

We’re not the only honey company doing some these things, but we don’t know of any beekeepers doing all of these things. (If you know someone who is, we’d love to connect with them!)

Old Blue Raw Honey hive inspection

To be clear, we are not asking for (nor accepting) donations. We are asking for your patronage. This is not a Kickstarter campaign. We already have bees and bee gear, and we’ve had a fairly large honey harvest (~10,000 lbs) for the last two years. To continue to produce great varietal honey, we need to get to the point where the income generated from honey sales can start paying off our considerable investment into this building sooner rather than later.

To establish a honey extraction facility and buy necessary equipment, we’ve spent income from Henry’s horseshoeing services, pollination contracts, sales of bees, logging on the homestead property, and personal savings. We’re also looking into our options for a loan from more traditional financial institutions, but we would really like to bridge this financial gap without going into debt.

We are committed to independently marketing and distributing our honey to customers and a few restaurants and businesses. We want the pipeline from hive to consumer to be as short and direct as possible so that we can continue to guarantee an interesting, quality product. While we are hoping to expand our wholesale honey options after the 2016 harvest this summer, our preference is to conduct most of our sales with individuals. If you value the idea of beekeeper-direct, diverse varietal honey, if you think we should have the infrastructure to keep doing this at a viable scale, please buy honey from us and/or encourage others to do so.

If you can’t buy honey now or if you’ve already made a purchase and want to go one step further, please consider telling your personal and/or professional network about our honey and bee breeding efforts. Tweet out a link to our Spring Honey Sampler. Encourage your friends to follow Old Blue Raw Honey on Facebook or Instagram. Bring some honey into the office, and leave it near the coffee station. Share a link to this blog post or one of our more educational blog post (i.e. queen graftingfreeze-brood hygienic testing, or a colony removal from a barn wall). Feel free to regram any photo from my Instagram feed (@waywardspark) or Henry’s (@oldbluerawhoney) as long as you include our IG handle(s), and if you decide to post your own photos, please tag them with #oldbluerawhoney so that we and others can find them. Or do things the old fashioned way, and tell folks about our honey in person. Bees make for a great conversation starter!

We do not aspire to be the biggest, most widely distributed, most influential, most sleekly marketed honey company in America. We DO aspire to live satisfying lives, provide for our children, be contributing members of our community (both locally and online), educate others through our day to day conversations, take care of our bees to the best of our ability, produce high-quality honey and wax for our customers, and continue to use this business as a chance to learn and grow as curious people.

There’s a lot of talk about “saving the bees” these days, but as beekeepers, we’re not at all confident that signatures on a petition or awareness-raising campaigns by major brands will do much good for the challenges all beekeepers are facing in the modern era. What really does make a difference for us and others is when folks choose to buy beekeeper-direct honey. In our case, your purchases support not just our family but also our bee breeding efforts that we believe are a small but significant step toward sustainable beekeeping in every sense of the word “sustainable” (environmental, economic, bee health, etc).

Thank you so much for your continued support. We really could not do this without you!

Camille and Henry Storch

Connect with us!

website: oldbluenaturalresources.com Use coupon code “HONEYHOUSE” at checkout for 15% off your next purchase.

Instagram: @oldbluerawhoney (Henry) @waywardspark (Camille) and #oldbluerawhoney

Facebook: facebook.com/oldbluerawhoney

email: oldbluerawhoney@gmail.com (Many common questions are answered on the FAQ page of our website, so we’d like to encourage you to check that out before emailing in your questions.)

Here’s a list of places you can buy our honey in Oregon.

Here’s our events schedule if you want to see us and sample honey in person.

Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey in a blooming almond orchard

We’d also like to acknowledge the hardworking contractors and partners who have done a lot of the physical labor to make the honey house possible.

Jim Schrock did most of the dirt and rock work, putting in our new road and making the pad for the building.

John Moser delivered load after load of gravel to our place.

Pete Owens designed the pole building shell and gave us great suggestions about possible added features. His crew (Luis, Rosedel, Serafin, and Manuel) carried out Pete’s vision pretty flawlessly.

Chris Foos and his team did an expert job pouring the concrete slab and loading dock.

Valley Electric is working on wiring up the building.

Albin’s Plumbing is in line to finish up all the water and heating infrastructure.

Contractor Will Harris and Milo Roberson are working tirelessly on the interior buildout and siding.

Eugene and Chip Cooper milled the fir siding for the exterior of the building and some dimensional lumber (out of logs from our homestead property).

Our new custom-built honey extractor was made by Cowen Manufacturing.

Most of our building materials have come from Spaeth Lumber Co., our local, independently owned hardware store.

Many of the people on the list above have been friends and/or horseshoeing clients of Henry’s for ten years or more. They are all reputable, upstanding folks/businesses doing fine work. We can’t recommend them highly enough.

Old Blue Raw Honey honeybees

Read more →

Spring Honey Sampler

Our Spring Honey Samplers will begin shipping on Tuesday, March 15. You can find our spring honey sampler for sale here or become a year-long honey subscription member here.

Logsden : Vine Maple & Dewberry

The small town of Logsden, Oregon is located in the central Oregon Coast Range along the upper Siletz River. Our Logsden apiary lies at the confluence of Mill Creek and the Siletz River surrounded by small farms, pasture land, and timber land. Nectar sources in the area include bigleaf maple, vine maple, bitter cherry, dewberry, chittum, and non-native blackberry. The site gets enough inland heat to make a good, consistent honey crop, but it also dries out earlier than some of our other Coast Range apiaries. As Henry was expanding his migratory beekeeping operation five years ago, the Logsden apiary was one of the first sites he selected to host hives away from our home. 

Vine maple (Acer circinatum) is a large, native shrub that can form impenetrable thickets. It blooms in late April to early May with small, red flowers. Often wet Oregon spring weather prevents bees from producing an abundant vine maple honey crop, but the flowers are a good nectar and pollen source if bees can fly to access them. 

Dewberry (Rubus usinus), also knows as trailing blackberry or trip briar, is a low-growing native blackberry that produces edible fruits later in the summer. The dewberry bloom is one of the principle spring nectar flows for bees in the Pacific Northwest.

This honey has an earthy, woodsy flavor with spicy undertones.

Boone Island : Wild Blackberry & Lotus

Boone Island and the adjacent shallows was formed by an ancient oxbow in the Yaquina River near Toledo, OR. The area has interesting tideland marshes dominated by tufted hair grass, gumweed, yarrow, Douglas’ aster, sedges, and orach. Upstream of the saltwater exclusion gates, the honeybee habitat is primarily made up of non-native blackberry and lotus. Boone Island was a major navigational point on the lower Yaquina for tugboats towing log rafts from the turn of the last century until the 1960s.

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus bifrons) is a non-native, naturalized species that is widespread in the area. It fruits prolifically in the summer.

Non-native lotus (Lotus corniculatus) was widely touted during the heyday of small scale dairying in Western Oregon as “poor man’s alfalfa” because of its adaptability to our region’s growing conditions. Lotus is nitrogen fixing and tolerates waterlogged and/or heavy clay soils. Its high tannin content prevents bloating in livestock but also reduces the forage quality of the plant material. It blooms early and continues to produce yellow flowers on wet sites until the first frost. The extra moisture in this area created by tidal influence causes the plant to secrete more nectar than is seen in other sites. The bees work lotus for both nectar and pollen. 

This honey is bright and fruity with a slight tannin edge and a clean finish.

Kiger Island : Pumpkin

Our Kiger Island apiary is located on an island in the Willamette River just south of Corvallis, Oregon. Our apiary sits on property owned by a fourth-generation farmer in the area, Mike Hathaway. Henry moved in the bees to the site in late May to pollinate Mike’s clary sage crop, producing our clary sage varietal honey. The hives remained in place to pollinate the neighboring seed pumpkin crop on Smith Island across the slough.

The pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) field was planted with an heirloom, hubbard-type “Golden Delicious” pumpkin grown for its edible seeds. The vines bloom through August, and the resulting pumpkin honey was the latest-season varietal we produced in 2015. 

This honey has a toasty candy corn flavor with a tart tamarind finish. 

 

Thank you so much for your support!

Camille & Henry Storch

Old Blue Raw Honey

Read more →